The annual CROP Walk is a big thing in New Carlisle and it has been from the beginning.
I was speaking recently about the early CROP Walk days with Larry Fry, Chairman of the local CROP Walk Corporate Sponsor program.
As Fry explained it, the whole idea started in this area. Right after World War II, during the time that Europe was starving and had not yet been rebuilt, farmers in this area wanted to do something to get surplus crops to those who needed it. The Christian Rural Overseas Program (CROP) started with local ideas and grew into a huge worldwide program that helped so many.
Bethel Township farmer Wilmer Funderburg is remembered as one of those who began the outreach. Fry remembers walking beside him at the first local CROP Walk in the 1970s.
Today, the letters CROP stand for Community Response to Overcome Poverty. Fundraising CROP events all over the world help both local and international persons in need.
At the New Carlisle CROP walk Sept. 21, members from 15 local churches will work together as Bethel Churches United. These volunteers are having a 5K CROP Walk to raise funds.
One quarter out of every dollar donated will stay in this area to fund the Bethel Churches United Food Pantry, which is located at 110 E. Madison St., New Carlisle, around the corner from the First United Methodist Church. According to Fry, the need is growing, and he hopes the donations will also grow.
The rest of the proceeds will go to the Church World Service, which responds to victims of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, and vulnerable communities. It also helps with self-help projects like well drilling in underdeveloped countries.
As Fry explained, when a village is given the tools to dig its own well, it starts a series of events that frees individuals from a lifetime of carrying water long distances to having the time and energy to grow crops, and live more productive lives. Often the village with the new well gives that equipment to a neighboring village that starts the process all over again for themselves.
With refugees being often in the news, it is good to know that Church World Services is often one of the first on the scene with rehydration packets that help people recover from the rigors of evacuations.
Bethel Churches United is planning a fun day for the CROP Walk Sept 21. In addition to the 5K walk, a mini-walk for children, seniors and those unable to walk the full walk will go around the block. It will give everyone a chance to take part.
Donations are not made by the mile, said Fry. Each participant just collects donations for walking. Donations can be made by individuals, clubs or businesses.
All sorts of fun after-walk activities are planned, including live music, face painting and clowns.
Fry is particularly excited about the sign campaign for CROP Walk.
“If you drive through town, look left and right. You will see CROP Walk signs in the windows,” he said.
Since 2007, downtown community support has been a custom in New Carlisle. And it is catching on in other towns.
For years the big goal for the local CROP Walk has been $10,000. Last year, they got the closest yet with donations totaling $8,830. Fry is hoping that this year might be the year that that big goal is finally met.
Registration and information for walkers is online at crophungerwalk.org. Those wishing to make corporate donations may call Fry at 937-849-6127.