The Cleveland County CROP Walk to Stop Hunger will launch its annual campaign to fight hunger at home and abroad with a Team Leaders Orientation at 2:30 p.m. today at Food & Shelter Inc., 201 Reed Ave. in Norman. Refreshments will be provided.
For 33 years, the local CROP Walk has brought together hundreds of concerned citizens to raise awareness about the impact of hunger and poverty. Faith communities, civic and professional organizations, businesses, youth groups, university organizations and others are invited to form teams to raise funds to support Norman’s Food and Shelter Inc. and the international hunger-fighting and relief efforts of Church World Service.
During the orientation meeting, prospective walkers and team leaders can receive information about the charity walk fundraiser, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 21. Participants will also receive pledge packets and promotional materials to share with their teams.
“Hunger is very real in our community,” said April Heiple, co-chair of the 2018 CROP Walk and executive director of Food & Shelter. “Local news has been saturated with stories about the great number of Norman school children relying on the free and reduced lunch program for their daily nutrition. Without adequate food in their pantries, their families rely on our community to ensure their children do not go to bed hungry.”
Heiple said one simple way people can help is by participating in the CROP Walk. CROP – Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty – is the community hunger appeal of Church World Service, a cooperative ministry of 37 denominations that not only fights hunger locally, but also provides development, disaster relief and refugee assistance in more than 30 countries. “We welcome anyone who would like to come to the CROP Walk orientation meeting to learn more about work of Church World Service and Food and Shelter,” Heiple said.
The Oct. 21 CROP Walk is a pet-friendly, three-mile walk that will feature a new route this year, beginning and ending at Andrews Park, 201 W. Daws. The theme of this year’s walk is “Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly,” inspired by Bible verse Micah 6:8.
Walk day festivities will begin at 1 p.m. with the CROP Walk Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest for Children and Families, which is being held at Andrews Park in conjunction with the walk. The art contest is coordinated by members of Norman Public Schools’ Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).
Pre-walk fun includes a performance by Manyawi World Music Ensemble as well as face painting for kids. The event will culminate with a free hot dog cookout, Eskimo Sno cones and dance music provided by Nexus Productions.
"Our community is incredibly generous," said co-chair Brenda Wheelock. “In the past 10 years, more than $190,000 has been raised to benefit people in need, both here and around the globe. This year, we have set a goal of raising at least $20,000.”
Twenty-five percent of funds raised through the local CROP Walk are donated to Norman’s Food and Shelter Inc., which provides emergency housing for homeless families and free meals for those in need. The remaining proceeds support the humanitarian work of Church World Service.
“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 globally and locally,” Wheelock said.
CROP Walk sponsors to date are Action Sign and Design, Ad Specialties & More Ltd., ARVEST Bank, Cleveland County Abstract, Community of Christ Church, Dental Design Studio, D.G. Productions, FCCLA of Norman, First Baptist Church, First Christian Church, First Congregational Church, First Presbyterian Church, Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma, Grace Fellowship, Heiple Law, Lanoy Tag Agency, Legend’s Restaurant, Manyawi World Music Ensemble, McFarlin United Methodist Church, Memorial Presbyterian Church, New Hope Christian Church, Nexus Productions, Norman Transcript, NorthHaven Church, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Redstone Properties, Republic Bank & Trust, Sandalwood & Sage, Second Wind Coffee Shop, St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, Therapy in Motion, University Lutheran Church, West Wind Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
For more information about CROP Walk or the Team Leaders Orientation, contact April Heiple at 405-360-4954 or visit www.clevelandcountycropwalk.org. You can also follow Cleveland County CROP Walk on Facebook.