NORMAN — The Cleveland County CROP Walk to Stop Hunger will launch its annual campaign to fight hunger at home and abroad with two upcoming Team Leader Orientation events.
A meeting for University of Oklahoma students will be 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the University Lutheran Church and Student Center, 914 Elm Ave., just west of campus. Free pizza and soft drinks will be provided.
The second Team Leader’s Orientation will be at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at Food & Shelter Inc., 104 W. Comanche St. The evening will feature free appetizers donated by local ethnic cuisine restaurants.
For more than 30 years, the local CROP Walk has brought together hundreds of concerned citizens each year to raise awareness about the impact of poverty and hunger.
Faith communities, civic and professional organizations, businesses, youth groups, student and university organizations, families, friends and dog walkers are invited to form teams to raise funds to support Norman’s Food and Shelter and the international relief efforts of Church World Service.
During the orientation meetings, prospective walkers and team leaders will hear a short orientation about the charity walk-a-thon, which will be Oct. 6. Participants also will receive pledge packets and promotional materials to share with their teams.
CROP — Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty — is the community hunger appeal of Church World Service, a cooperative ministry of 36 denominations providing sustainable self-help and development, disaster relief and refugee assistance in more than 80 countries.
The Oct. 6 CROP Walk is a three-mile, 45-minute walk that will begin at Food and Shelter and wind through tree-lined streets and the OU campus. Pre-walk fun includes performances by the Pride of Oklahoma and Manyawi Children’s World Music Ensemble, as well as face painting for kids.
The event will culminate with a hot dog cookout and feature dance music by DJ Adrian Buendia and Nexus Productions.
Comfort stations along the route will be staffed by Girl Scouts and will offer restrooms and water for participants, plus bowls of water and dog treats for leashed dogs.
“Our community is incredibly generous,” said local CROP Walk chair Karen Buntin, noting that local CROP Walk organizers hope to raise $20,000 this year. “In the past 10 years, more than $150,000 has been raised to benefit people in need, both here and around the globe.”
Twenty-five percent of funds raised through the local CROP Walk are donated to Norman’s Food and Shelter, which has provided emergency housing for homeless families and meals to the hungry for more than 20 years. The remaining proceeds support the humanitarian work of Church World Service.
“Last year’s CROP Walk drew more than 500 participants and raised more than $18,000,” Buntin said. “It’s a great feeling to walk with your family, your friends, your community and know that together you are doing something to alleviate hunger and poverty around the world and right here in our own backyard.”
On Sept. 28, the local CROP Walk will host its annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest for Kids and Families, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Performing Arts Studio at the Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. Jones Ave.
The theme is “Helping the Hungry — Making a Difference,” and art work will be done along Legacy Trail. Participants are asked to donate peanut butter or tuna as the entry fee.
The art contest is open to youth up to age 18 and families. Prizes donated by local businesses will be awarded, including a special Mom’s-Only prize drawings.
For more information about CROP Walk or the Team Leaders Orientation events, call Karen Buntin at 314-8348 or visit the local walk website, clevelandcountycropwalk.org. You can also follow Cleveland County CROP Walk on Facebook.