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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:06:07 10:47:21

People walk along the Countryside Conservancy Trail during the Abington Area CROP Hunger Walk Sunday, April 28.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:06:07 10:49:05

Walkers braved a cold, rainy day on April 28 to raise money to fight hunger, both in the local community and worldwide, through the 2019 Abington Area CROP Hunger Walk.

It was a cold, rainy day – not the best of days for a walk on the Trolley Trail in Dalton and Clarks Summit. In spite of the cold, 40 brave and hearty souls walked 3.5 miles on the cold, wet trail.

Their goal?

End Hunger, One Step at a Time.

This year’s Abington Area CROP Hunger Walk was held on April 28. The walkers gathered at the Dalton Fire Company Station 5 and prepared to brave the weather. Registration and kick off events were moved inside, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. The group walked down to the Ackerly Road crosswalk where many paused to eat a juicy clementine donated by Weiss. Then they made their way back to the fire hall to warm up with donut holes, coffee and hot chocolate.

This year marked the second annual Abington Area CROP Hunger Walk coordinated by Abington Ecumenical Ministerium. The group represents several ecumenical churches in the Abington area including United Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Lutheran, and Assemblies of God congregations. The group is thankful for the cooperation of Countryside Conservancy which hosts the walk on the Trolley Trail.

Last year was the first time a CROP Hunger walk has been organized in the area since the 1980s. Back then, the Trolley Trail didn’t exist, and the route took walkers through the streets of Clarks Summit. The trail is a wonderful gift to the community and the perfect spot for this kind of event.

The Abington community has embraced the CROP Hunger Walk with support. Weis Markets provided a variety of snacks for the walkers. Gerrity’s and Wegmans donated gift cards and Manning’s Mobile Ice Cream was scheduled to meet the walkers at the finish line. The weather changed our plans from ice cream to warm drinks, but we hope to have Manning’s again in the future years.

Event sponsors help fund T-shirts and other walk expenses. This year’s sponsors included Lawrence E. Young Funeral Home, Geisinger, First Presbyterian Church, Rotary Club of the Abingtons, Eckel Farms and Scranton Label.

This year, attendance was down due to the weather, but walkers still raised approximately $5,000 to fight hunger here at home and around the world. Five area hunger organizations will each receive 5% of the money raised for a total of 25% returning to the local community. This includes Dalton Food Pantry, Northern Lackawanna Food Pantry, Keystone Mission, Friends of the Poor and St. Francis Soup Kitchen.

The rest of the funds are used to fight hunger through the work of Church World Service. Just $25 buys 50 chicks to create an ongoing source of nutrition and income for families across the world. $250 funds a community seed bank for individual gardens and $2,000 provides everything needed to create and maintain a sustainable garden. The walk also supports initiative to supply families and villages with clean water. $7,000 provides clean water and sanitation for an entire village.

Community CROP Walks around the country are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the hunger walk. The walk originated with youth in Bismark, North Dakota. Their pioneering walk gained the attention of churches in York which worked to unite the community around a walk of their own. These churches were already connected with Church World Service and their work to end hunger. Fifty years later, millions of people have walked in almost every state.

The 2020 Abington Area CROP Hunger Walk is tentatively scheduled for April 19. More information will be available by January online at crophungerwalk.org/clarkssummitpa.

Rev. Michelle Whitlock is the CROP Coordinator and pastor of Waverly United Methodist Church.