Sunday, October 19, 2014

CROP Walking

Early October in Linn County, Iowa, as in other places, is time for the annual CROP Walk to support Church World Service--a Christian ecumenical organization formed in 1946 to combat hunger and poverty. Numbers on this year's walk aren't available yet, but last year people from 26 churches raised $27,766.59 (including $150 in matching funds from Schneider Electric, and $70.09 "unaffiliated"). [Source is Ellen Fisher of the CROP Walk Planning Committee.]

Iowa weather in early October ranges from sunny and colorful--as, in fact, it is this afternoon as I write this--to miserable. For a long time CROP Walkers were blessed with nice weather, but these last few years it's been rainy more often than not. This year it was cloudy, and rained both before and after we walked, but during the walk itself it was mostly dry.

Why walk instead of just contributing money? I can think of three reasons why it's worth taking the extra steps to have this event.

First, for the donors, it provides an annual focus around which to give. Sure, one can donate money any time, but any time can be no time. Requests for charitable contributions come in pretty constantly, and ignoring them becomes a survival skill. Having one annual event around which to predict and schedule donations keeps time from slipping away. The need itself is hardly trivial--the Linn Community Food Bank served 30 percent more households in 2013 than it had the previous year, on top of a 33 percent increase in 2012 over 2011. Anything that draws attention to the ongoing problem of world hunger, including its Linn County chapter, is a good thing.

Second, for the walkers, it's a festive social occasion.
Departing from the park shelter after Dorothy Higdon gave the blessing
My church was represented by a pastor, several adult members of the congregation, and more than a dozen middle and high school youth.
Some of the Lovely Lane contingent prepare for the CROP Walk
We mingled along the trail with as many or more people from other churches. (In the past, there have also been walkers from Temple Judah, the Hindu temple, the carpenters' union and Coe College. I don't know about this year.) We greet friends and take pleasure in those who go all out, like First Lutheran Church with their matching purple jackets, and these costumed vegetables.
This year's CROP Walk featured walking crops
Finally, it urges everyone to get out and enjoy the metro trails system. A few years ago, the walk moved to the Marion Parks Trail from Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids. This was a good move: Noelridge is a fine and city park, with greenhouse, gardens, playground and outdoor pool, but walking around a track is dull compared to getting off on a countrysidish trail. The CROP Walk starts at Thomas Park in Marion, and follows the Marion Parks trail to Boyson Road and back, about 3.1 miles round trip. (The significance of this distance is that people in parts of the world have to walk this far each day to get water to drink.)
Along the trail, an opening in the woods
(revealing an under-construction subdivision, but as the Vogons say...)
Along the trail, a choice of paths
Water break at Boyson Road turn-around
Along the trail, a view of a mysterious other trail
Almost there... crossing the bridge over Dry Creek
Raising money for a worthy cause, in good company, while we enjoy the wonderful public good a trail provides--what a wonderful local tradition!

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