Hundreds walk to help end poverty during local charity event


Andres Luvianos, sophomore mechanical engineering major, crosses the finish line of the CROP Walk at the First Congressional Church in DeKalb, Ill. The CROP Walk is a fundraising walk organized in order to raise money to end hunger and poverty.

By Jessi Haish

Three hundred walkers participated in the Northern DeKalb County Sondra King Memorial Campaign to Rule Out Poverty (CROP) Hunger Walk on Sunday.

The walk was hosted by the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 615 N. First St., and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 158 N. Fourth St. The walk stepped off at 3 p.m. Sunday at the First Congregational Church.

“You are part of a long tradition and long history of a community coming together to end hunger,” said Dan Kenney, co-coordinator of the walk.

The coordinators started preparing for this year’s CROP walk in April. Twenty-five percent of the funds raised from this year’s walk stays in DeKalb County and go to agencies including local food pantries, Meals on Wheels, Hope Haven and Safe Passage. The remainder of the funds are distributed nationally and internationally to provide disaster relief and assist self-development projects through the Church World Service (CWS), Kenney said.

According to the CWS website, raised funds from these walks help develop and feed those in regions that are food insecure, such as Afghanistan, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Haiti.

“Hunger is not a one-time event of the year,” Kenney said. “People in our community and county deal with it everyday.”

Kenney said 18 percent of children in DeKalb County are living in poverty.

Lolly Voss, co-coordinator of the walk, said the walk was named after Sondra King, who passed away in 2005. King was involved with local food pantries, shelters and worked with non-profit groups in many other countries including Guatemala, China and Ghana.

“To keep her hopes and dreams alive we walk in her name,” Voss said. “Today, we are going to be walking because she walked.”

A 4-mile walk or 1-mile “Golden Mile” walk were available to participants. The four mile walk had three rest stops along the way and were attended by Cub Scouts, a Target volunteer group and the DeKalb High School Key Club. After the walk, a commencement celebration was held and pins for the participants were distributed.

Thirty-two NIU Greek organizations, NIU clubs, churches and other organizations participated in the walk.

The NIU Bread for the World organization participated in the walk again this year.

The group held a bake sale, accepted online donations and participated in a 5K to raise funds for their team.

“This is a big part of who we are,” said Julia Estrada jp/ls, NIU Bread for the World treasurer. “We are always trying to raise awareness.”

The DeKalb Chapter of Bread for the World was established by Virginia “Gingie” Noe jp/ls, a local journalist and painter who passed away in 2011 jp. Noe was involved with many charitable organizations. Martha O’Gorman, longtime walk participant and NIU employee, jp said Noe had an influence in DeKalb County.

“Gingie wrote the words, painted the pictures and she walked the walk,” O’Gorman said.

The CROP walk, which originally stood for the Christian Rural Overseas Program, originated in DeKalb in 1948. Midwestern farmers collected and donated crops to send overseas after World War II. In 1969, the campaign was converted to a walk. Voss believes DeKalb was one of the early organizers of the walk concept.

“With the economy the way it is, and so many unemployed locally, we want to raise as much as we can so we can provide food to those who need it,” Kenney said.