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Walks help stomp out hunger

October 11, 2009

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Participants in two local annual walks to fight worldwide hunger on Sunday talked about how the event is especially important now, given the tough economic times.

Pastor Clark D. Carr of Grace United Methodist Church, who was walking in a CROP Walk at Fairgrounds Park Sunday afternoon, recalled how about 30 families a month were helped through a food bank his Hagerstown church operates when he came to the area five years ago.

This month, the local food bank has assisted 88 families, Carr said.

"It's going to be a hard year for a lot of people," said Fran Cockerham, who was participating in a CROP Walk in Keedysville.

The event got its start in 1947 when farm families in the Midwest shared grain with hungry people in Europe and Asia after World War II. People in those areas ended up hungry due to the number of men killed in the war and farm fields being destroyed, CROP walk organizers said.

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At the CROP Walk in Keedysville, which started at Taylor Park, music from the Rohrersville Band drifted through the air as walkers waited to start.

About 89 walkers participated and raised about $7,200 by getting pledges for each mile they walked, organizers said.

Walkers in the Keedysville event were expected to walk down Main Street, take Md. 34 to Boonsboro and return.

Organizers at the Fairgrounds Park CROP Walk estimate they had about 300 walkers who raised more than $20,000.

"We had 300 hot dogs and we have about 15 left," Hagerstown-area CROP Walk coordinator Jane O. Drawbaugh said near the end of the Fairgrounds Park walk.

At Fairgrounds Park, people walked along a mile-long track around the park, up to five or six times.

CROP Walks benefit Church World Services, the relief, development and refugee assistance ministry of 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations in the United States.

Of the money that is raised in the walks, 25 percent goes to battle local hunger, said Roger Burtner, who has been involved in local CROP Walks for 39 years.

The Fairgrounds Park CROP Walk supported food pantries at Grace United Methodist Church in Hagerstown, Trinity Lutheran Church on North Potomac Street in Hagerstown and one known as ACTS 9 at a Seventh-day Adventist community center on East Washington Street, Drawbaugh said.

The Keedysville walk raised money for the South County Food Bank at Trinity Lutheran Church in Boonsboro.

A Crop Walk in Hancock on Oct. 4 attracted about 35 walkers and raised funds for the Interfaith Service Coalition, a spokesman for the event said.

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