By James Niedzinski firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — LONDONDERRY — Residents turned out in great numbers for the first Greater Londonderry CROP Walk.
CROP walks, started by the Church World Service, are a way for people to raise awareness of global issues, as well as raise money to combat world hunger.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Londonderry and the United Methodist Church of Londonderry teamed up to make the benefit possible.
One of the United Methodist Church walking groups, called the Tenacious Trekkers, was very excited to give back, according to Theresa Simkevich, director of Congregational Care.
The two churches have raised more than $3,500 in online donations, but many participants donated in person.
Three-quarters of the money raised will go to Church World Services, and one-quarter will be given to St. Jude’s Food Pantry in Londonderry and the Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry, Simkevich said.
CROP, an acronym for Christian Rural Overseas Program, was initially started as a way to fight world hunger.
While the programs began in 1960s as church events, CROP walks have become more, the Rev. Sarah Rockwell of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church said.
“This is just a great way to raise money for a noble cause and get the community together,” she said.
Although participants may have prayed for good weather, there was some rainfall during the walk.
Rockwell said the planning aspect was tough, but rewarding. She hopes next year she can get more people involved, from synagogues and mosques to local businesses.
Both churches have multiple teams walking, but most people signed up on Sunday, just before the walk began.
According to Rockwell, CROP walks were the first benefits of their kind, leading to other walks for charity.
“I don’t care what ethnicity, religion or creed you follow,” she said. “This is a cause everyone can get behind.”
After the three-mile walk, participants were treated to food and baked goods on the Town Common, in addition to learning more facts about charities and world hunger.
Lee O’ Connor of the United Methodist Church of Londonderry was awarded a Golden Sneaker award for raising around $1,000.
In addition, the church as a whole was awarded a Golden Sneaker award for having the most teams and team members, Simkevich said.