We have a problem in our world, our country, our state and our city that we don’t like to talk about. Poverty. We do our best to ignore it and avoid seeing it, but that doesn’t make it go away. We live in a world where every five seconds a child dies of hunger-related causes. We live in a community where more than 50,000 children know hunger. Maybe not every day of every week, but sometime during the month 50,000 children in Mecklenburg County will know the pain of not having enough to eat.
Part of poverty’s power is our fear. Government can’t fix it. We don’t know what to do so we pretend it isn’t there. But it is. And every day we ignore it, we let poverty fester and grow unchecked. And our fear grows along with it because we feel powerless.
Poverty and hunger cut across racial boundaries and generational lines and exist in every culture; yet we live in a world where there is enough to feed every man, woman and child. Fortunately compassion also cuts across the racial, generational and community lines that sometimes divide us. Compassion for those in need unites us. The will to make a difference connects us, regardless of the color of our skin or where we live or choose to worship.
The Charlotte CROP Hunger Walk is not a cure for poverty, but it is a start.The Walk brings together houses of faith, schools, businesses and individuals across Mecklenburg County to fight poverty and hunger in our city and across the globe.
Last year Charlotte CROP Hunger Walk funds helped Church World Service provide thousands of micronutrient packets to pull children in Africa back from the brink of starvation and malnutrition. We also assisted with relief from natural disasters. At this moment, CROP dollars are helping refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. Our CROP Walk dollars also helped Loaves & Fishes distribute a week’s worth of groceries to almost 80,000 individuals in Mecklenburg County. We supported Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in distributing over 10 million pounds of food and household items to fellow nonprofit agencies engaged in serving those in need and at risk of hunger in the Charlotte area. And we helped Crisis Assistance Ministry aid over 17,000 families with emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities.
The generosity and unity of the Charlotte community can be clearly witnessed as thousands take to the streets to walk in the largest CROP Hunger Walk in the nation. We can all stand together to end hunger, and proudly walk alongside others who may look differently than we do, but who share the will to make a difference. The Charlotte CROP Hunger Walk has been one of the hallmark events of our community for over 35 years. Come join us. For more information please visit www.charlottecrophungerwalk.org. See you Sunday!
Shay Merritt is the executive director of the Charlotte CROP Hunger Walk.