CROP Hunger Walk ‘whenever, wherever’ in Franklin County this year

  • Linda Comstock, Cara Hochhalter and Janna Douillard participate in a previous year’s CROP Hunger Walk. This year, due to the pandemic, people are encouraged to walk wherever they can on Sunday, Oct. 4, and collect donations to fight hunger. STAFF FILE PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

  • CROP Hunger Walk participants cross Main Street in Greenfield in 2017. This year, due to the pandemic, people are encouraged to walk wherever they can on Sunday, Oct. 4, and collect donations to fight hunger. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Northfield Trinitarian Congregational Church members Jen Piescik, from left, Martha Morse, and Joanne McGee walk down Federal Street in Greenfield during the CROP Hunger Walk in 2017. This year, due to the pandemic, people are encouraged to walk wherever they can on Sunday, Oct. 4, and collect donations to fight hunger. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Second Congregational Church members Judy Kelton, from left, Corey Sanderson, and Laurie Boosahda, cross Main Street in Greenfield during the CROP Hunger Walk in 2017. This year, due to the pandemic, people are encouraged to walk wherever they can on Sunday, Oct. 4, and collect donations to fight hunger. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/30/2020 2:31:01 PM

Steve Damon, of Gill, said he and CROP Hunger Walks “started at the same time.”

He was born in November 1969, weeks after what was likely the first of such walks to erase hunger. A thousand people in Bismarck, N.D., participated and raised $25,000 to help fight hunger.

Five decades later, at least 2,000 communities across the United States join in more than 1,300 CROP Hunger Walks each year. One of those events is held in Franklin County, organized by Damon.

“I actually see people who walk the CROP walk ... getting meals, which is like full circle,” he said recently.

The events typically consist of volunteers walking a pre-determined route starting from the steps of a church. But Damon said safety precautions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic means this year’s installment of Franklin County’s event has turned into “a whenever, wherever of a walk.”

People are encouraged to walk wherever they can for as long as they can on Sunday, Oct. 4, in spirit of the hunger walk. Participants are asked to collect donations, which will be given to a church recruiter. The goal is to have all donations in by Nov. 6.

Damon mentioned walkers are also asked to take photos and video of their miniature event so images can be posted to social media.

Last year’s event was held in Sunderland, starting at the First Congregational Church. Damon said the original plan was to hold this year’s CROP Hunger Walk in New Salem. That route is already mapped out and is expected to be used next year.

According to crophungerwalk.org, when CROP began in 1947, it was an acronym for the Christian Rural Overseas Program. Its primary mission was to help Midwest farm families to share their grain with people in post-World War II Europe and Asia.

“Today, we’ve outgrown the acronym, but we retain it as the historic name of the program,” the website reads. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit is based in Elkhart, Ind.

Damon said the CROP Hunger Walk made its way to Franklin County in 1987 and he got involved in the early 1990s, first with the First Baptist Church in Greenfield and now with the United Church of Bernardston. He said the Franklin County event typically attracts 150 to 200 people and raises an average of roughly $25,000.

“We’re kind of bumping at the door of … $1 million,” he said of the total amount raised since 1987.

Visit bit.ly/3iRUOvg to register for or donate to the Franklin County event.

“We’re feeding people who wouldn’t normally have food for (themselves),” Damon said. “When you see the outcome of what you’re doing, it makes everything worthwhile.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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