Many of the approximately 75 participants in Sunday’s McLean County CROP Hunger Walk were regulars for the annual event.
In fact, some, like Will Stevenson of Streator, got his start in fighting world hunger well before the CROP walk ever made it to McLean County.
“Right after the end of World War II, I was farming in Streator and the farmers of the United States started collecting food for the residents of the war-torn countries,” said Stevenson, who now lives in Bloomington. “We were asked to donate a few bushels of grain and they would collect it, get it out to the East Coast and then ship it overseas. I guess that is kind of what got me started in donating to the hungry, but my wife and I try to do whatever we can every year.”
CROP is an acronym for Communities Responding to Overcoming Poverty, and it will be another week before final totals for the fundraising effort will be finalized.
Individuals raise money with pledges.
Church groups and local organizations are encouraged to participate. Eight churches brought volunteers on Sunday.
Organizer Kerry Modendricker of Normal hopes the totals will surpass the goal of $10,000.
“We raised over $9,000 last year, so we are really hoping to hit $10,000 this year,” she said. “But we also feel this is a special year because it is our 20th year here and we have a great group of people who really care who come back every year. We always have some great youth who participate as well.”
Modendricker said 25 percent of the money raised will stay in Bloomington-Normal. That money will be divided up between the Claire House and the Salvation Army food pantries.
“My job is to have my hand out as many places as possible to help our cause,” said Steve Schroeder, development director of the Salvation Army of McLean County. “We have a need and the people who help in this cause are just terrific and it means so much.”
The rest of the funds will be donated to Church World Service in their efforts in educating countries around the world about agricultural techniques, making drinking water safe and safely preparing food.
Keith Ferguson, pastor of visitation at Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, said most Americans don’t understand how difficult it is for those living in countries where people cannot afford to eat.
“I have seen children licking powder off of their hands and I asked what it was they were licking,” he said. “I was told it was powdered milk and the kids needed it for nutrition, but the water supply was so unsafe, they were unable to use water. That makes you think.”