Waynesboro 'Y' helps provide food and fun with CROP walk, open house

October 07, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Several dozen people step off for the CROP Hunger Walk Sunday during the annual Waynesboro (Pa.) YMCA Fun Day.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Waynesboro Area YMCA buzzed with activity Sunday as the doors opened for the center’s annual Fun Day and the launching point for the 41st annual CROP Hunger Walk in Waynesboro.

Visitors could use the climbing wall, participate in Les Mills fitness programs, take racquetball lessons, watch gymnastics and cheerleading demonstrations, have their faces painted and tour the wellness center.

Several dozen people gathered outside to step off for the CROP Hunger Walk, which raises about $5,000 each year in Waynesboro. CROP Hunger Walk events across the nation benefit Church World Service’s efforts to fight hunger and other issues tied to poverty.

“Most of their work is in Third World countries. They drill wells, they provide schools, they buy uniforms, and they do feeding programs and all kinds of education,” said the Rev. Robert Cook, who organizes the Waynesboro event for Waynesboro Area Fellowship of Churches.

Because some people living in poverty must walk 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) for potable water, the annual fundraiser’s walking route mimics that distance, Cook said.

Waynesboro resident Kevin Behnke participated in CROP Hunger Walk as a teenager. Now, he helps children walk a shorter route designed for them while his wife does the full 10-kilometer walk.

“We are trying to get our kids into some of the things we did when we were younger,” Behnke said of charities.

Jeremy Driver of Waynesboro returned as a CROP Hunger Walk participant when he moved back to Waynesboro. He said he likes the idea of serving others, and addressing hunger locally and internationally.

He called CROP Hunger Walk “great exercise and a great cause.”

One-fourth of the money raised stays local for The Lunch Place and New Hope Shelter, Cook said.

Robert Small of Waynesboro had not participated in the CROP Hunger Walk previously, but he helped put signs out Sunday morning. Small decided to return that afternoon for the event and see how far he could walk despite knee problems.

Last year, Esther Oney surprised herself when she easily walked the entire route. The Waynesboro woman returned to the fundraising walk Sunday for her second year.

“You’re raising money to make sure other people have enough food to eat,” Oney said.

Waynesboro Area YMCA Executive Director Alan Smith said the YMCA has coordinated with the CROP Hunger Walk for several years.

Fun Day has been held the first Sunday of October for at least 25 years, Smith said.

“It’s a way for the Y to give back to the community. It gives us an opportunity to showcase all the things we have to offer here, and it’s a way for (the public) to come in and enjoy all the programs, facilities, the great volunteers and staff we have here,” he said.

John Hillman’s family joined the YMCA in mid-march. His five children are active in gymnastics, soccer, climbing on the rock wall and weight lifting.

“We’re up here almost every night of the week. ... The people in here are incredibly friendly and the instructors are fabulous,” said Hillman, of Smithsburg.

On Sunday, two of his sons and his daughter participated in a gymnastics practice designed to show off the YMCA’s offerings. The children flipped on a spring mat and swung from uneven bars.

Linda Bibb of Waynesboro started bringing her children to the YMCA when they were young. On Sunday, her daughter, Kristen, brought her own three children for play opportunities, free food, prizes and balloons.

“My kids love doing all the activities they have,” Kristen Bibb said.

It is nice that multiple generations can enjoy the YMCA, Linda Bibb said.

“It’s a lot of fun. There are activities for the kids to do and it’s making memories as a family,” she said.

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