Lake Norman & Mooresville

It's time to dust off your walking shoes

Day in and day out, 16,000 children throughout the world die from hunger-related causes - one child every five seconds.

Residents of the Denver area, young and old, will be walking three miles Oct. 24 in support of CROP, Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty.

A ministry of the Church World Service, comprising 35 denominations, the annual CROP Walk takes place on the same day in more than 2,000 communities throughout the country, including 6,000 walkers in Charlotte.

Traditionally, the annual walk covers six miles. According to Church World Service, "Hungry people in developing countries typically walk as much as six miles a day to get food, water and fuel, and to take their goods to market.

"We walk to be in solidarity with their struggle for existence. We walk because they walk."

The Denver Walk is sponsored by the East Lincoln Christian Ministry, the only local non-profit committed primarily to helping those in need in East Lincoln County.

The effort is coordinated by Bud and Jeanne Hawkins, long-time members of St. Peter by the Lake Episcopal Church.

As many as 200 participants this year will cover the three-mile route, beginning 2 p.m. at Rock Springs Campground, with the goal of raising $10,000 through donations.

One fourth of the money raised goes to help food pantries in the local community, while the remainder is designated to help fund hunger-related programs in 80 developing countries throughout the world.

Fifteen churches in the greater Denver area are registered to participate this year, as are students from East Lincoln and West Lincoln High Schools and Lincoln Charter School.

"We've had young children walking with their grandparents, as well as parents walking with babies in strollers and even on their backs," said Hawkins.

"Walkers get a feeling of giving back to those in need," he said. "Even if they don't raise much money in pledges, which can range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, we want them to be involved. They can walk just to give testimony to this worthwhile cause."

The recession is reflected locally in the increasing demands made on the East Lincoln Christian Ministry.

Requests for food assistance, as well as other kinds of help, such as paying utility bills, have been the highest in its 25-year existence.