CROP Walks keep in stride with charity

October 11, 2006|By Susan Gvozdas | Susan Gvozdas,Special to the Sun

Walkers at 10K fundraisers Sunday in Severna Park and Annapolis will be taking steps to restock food pantries, support Hurricane Katrina victims and help impoverished areas worldwide.

The Severna Park Assistance Network, known as SPAN, will receive 25 percent of the money raised at its 26th annual CROP Walk. The network, started by local churches 16 years ago, runs a food pantry and helps people pay rent and utility bills and buy prescription medicines.

Last year, the Severna Park walk raised $11,950, according to the Church World Service Web site. Usually about 150 people participate, said Sally Vavrek, one of four coordinators of the walk.

"We're always looking to do better," said Vavrek, who lives in Arnold.

The Annapolis-South County CROP Walk, which takes place at Quiet Waters Park, raised nearly $9,300 last year. Proceeds benefit the South County Assistance Network and the Lighthouse Shelter for the homeless in the city.

North County held its CROP Walk on Oct. 1. Last year's raised $12,934.

Walks in Maryland, Delaware and Northern Virginia last year raised $425,000, with more than $100,000 going to local groups, said Ted Farrar, regional director for the Greater Mid-Atlantic Region of the Church World Service.

The Church World Service began the Christian Rural Overseas Project (CROP) 60 years ago to help Europeans after World War II. Midwest farmers sent their surplus crops to feed the hungry. The Church World Service changed the program's name this year to Communities Respond to Overcome Poverty.

CROP walks began in 1969, Farrar said. More than 2,000 walks are held nationwide in the fall and spring. They raise more than $16 million annually. The money is distributed worldwide and provided emergency relief to Hurricane Katrina victims. The walks are supported entirely by volunteers.

SPAN typically receives about $3,000 from the Severna Park walk, said Linda Moore, executive director of SPAN. The organization helped 1,449 families in fiscal 2006, she said. About half of those families received food.

Half of SPAN's $100,000 budget is provided by 13 churches in Arnold, Broadneck, Millersville and Severna Park. The other half comes from fundraisers.

"The CROP walk and other events like that are vital to our existence," Moore said.

Vavrek said it has never rained in the 26 years since the Severna Park walk started, and she hopes that record holds out. There is no rain date.

About 100 people usually participate in the Annapolis-South County walk, said Nancy Lear, co-chairwoman of the event. Last-minute arrivals can also make donations and walk, she said.

If you go

What: 26th annual Severna Park CROP Walk.

When: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m.

Where: B&A Trail, starting and ending at the Community Center at Woods, 63 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd.

Information: 410-757-2492.

What: 10th annual Annapolis-South County CROP Walk.

When: 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Registration begins at 1 p.m.

Where: Holly Pavilion at Quiet Waters Park, Forest and Hillsmere drives.

Information: 410-268-2259.

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