Monique Boekhout travels the world to help children with basic needs – shelter, education, hope. Now, she found another way to take take steps to help at home, too.
Boekhout, founder of Lake Wylie-based Kenya Orphanage Project, is coordinating a CROP Hunger Walk set for Oct. 19.
Walks annually come to Rock Hill and York. The Oct. 19 event is the first walk in Lake Wylie in more than a dozen years. The 3-mile walk will be from River Hills Community Church along Charlotte Highway to Good Samaritan United Methodist Church and back.
A quarter of all proceeds will be split between Clover Area Assistance Center, People Attempting To Help and God’s Kitchen.
“I thought, everyone walks today, so why not have fun?” Boekhout said. “It means a lot to me because hunger is something I’ve seen up close.”
Boekhout began regular support and mission trips to African orphanages in Kenya when she realized many people in the Lake Wylie community were doing so much to help locally. This gives her high hopes for her newest endeavor.
Gayle Montgomery, pastor for River Hills Community Church, accepted a challenge to raise $2,000 for the walk. If she doesn’t, she’ll have to go to work in pajamas for a week.
“Or else I’m going to be out shopping for some really cute pajamas,” she said.
Montgomery said it’s “really easy to get comfortable” living in an affluent community, without recognizing there are people nearby and around the world who need help. The walk is one of solidarity and community, she said, as people elsewhere have to walk many miles for the nearest food and clean water.
“We run to Zaxby’s and turn on the faucet,” Montgomery said. “We don’t think about it.”
Other churches participating are Pleasant Hill Presbyterian, Christ the King, Journey and Relevant. Organizers hope to add community and corporate sponsors, too. They’re banking on the local angle to solicit funds.
Clover Area Assistance Center serves the same boundaries as the Clover School District. PATH the same boundaries as the York School District. Both provide a food pantry, financial aid and related services to residents in need. God’s Kitchen in Clover provides regular meals in that community, and is affiliated with a shelter and thrift store through New Beginnings Baptist Church.
Karen van Vierssen, CAAC executive director, said a recent move to a full-choice pantry has been popular. More people are coming in and getting food they get to choose, rather than an assigned box.
“Especially this time of year, in the Clover area, we still have very high unemployment,” van Vierssen said. “We still have great need.”
Under the banner of Church World Service, CROP began in 1947 as Christian Rural Overseas Program to share Midwest grain with hungry, post-war communities in Europe and Asia. CROP Hunger walks are now interfaith education and fundraising events across the country.
Most of the money collected through CROP walks goes to provide food and water in developing parts of the world. Church World Service provides seeds, wells, loans and an assortment of services. Up to 25 percent from a walk can go to local community service groups, as will happen with the Lake Wylie walk. Almost 14 percent goes toward fundraising and administration costs.
Registration for the Oct. 19 event begins at 1 p.m. The walk starts at 2 p.m. Refreshments will be provided at the end.
“We’re so fortunate,” Boekhout said. “We’re blessed. Let’s return some of those blessings.”