A walk for world hunger

HOUGHTON – Chuck Williams is new to Houghton, but for about 15 years he’s participated in CROP Walks in various parts of Michigan, and Sunday, he added Houghton and Hancock to his list.

Williams, pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Houghton, was at his church registering to take part in the event created to raise money to fight hunger and provide other services around the world and in the United States.

One of the services provided by the funds raised by CROP Walks is bringing safe drinking water to people who may not otherwise have it, which Williams said is very important.

“We take water for granted around here,” he said.

Williams said he also appreciates the fact some of the money raised by the CROP Walk stays local.

Carol Korpela, coordinator of the Copper Country CROP Walk and representative of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, said participants get pledges of money for their taking part in the event. The money is used to provide food and other services, such as safe drinking water. In some parts of the world, people have to walk many miles to get safe drinking water, which is the inspiration for the CROP Walk.

“We walk because they walk,” she said.

The original purpose of CROP Walk was to raise funds for food, but Korpela said its mission has changed over the years, and the funds raised also provide assistance after natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes and tornadoes around the world and in the United States.

Korpela said the CROP Walk includes many denominations taking part.

“It’s an ecumenical effort among churches,” she said.

Korpela said churches taking part in the CROP Walk Sunday were Grace United Methodist, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist, Albert Paine United Methodist, Gloria Dei Lutheran, First United Methodist, Holy Trinity Lutheran, and Church of the Resurrection Catholic. Also taking part were Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly and the Salvation Army.

The route for the walk was from Grace United Methodist on Montezuma Street in Houghton to Gloria Dei on West Quincy Street in Hancock.

Korpela said locally, CROP Walk has happened every year since 1989. The location of the start of the walk has been at various churches over that period, but it’s been centered at Grace United since 2010.

Historically, Korpela said CROP Walk has had 75-80 participants, but this year she was hoping for a little more.

“Our goal is 100,” she said.

Korpela said 75 percent of funds raised from the local CROP Walks goes to the national organization headquarters in Elkhart, Ind. The remaining 25 percent stays local. The local contribution will be used for the LBFE and Salvation Army food pantry programs.

According to its website, the CROP Walk is a function of Church World Service of Elkhart, Ind. CROP is an acronym for Christian Rural Overseas Program, and the first one was in 1969 in Bismarck, N.D.

Chuck Gaff of Houghton took part in the CROP Walk with his family because it provides money to help people in need, but it also raises awareness of those needs.

“It benefits the larger mission,” he said.