By Todd Cohen
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Roughly 4,500 people are expected to take part in four 5K walks in the Greensboro area to raise money to fight hunger.
Organizers of the 23d annual Greater Greensboro CROP Walk, to be held Oct. 12 in the Greensboro Coliseum area and in Brown Summit, Forest Oaks and Oak Ridge, hope to raise $200,000, up from more than $178,000 last year.
Greensboro Urban Ministry will get one-fourth of the funds raised, and will use those funds to support its Potter’s House Community Kitchen, says Pat Arnett, the group’s director of development.
The community kitchen, which costs $70,000 a year to operate, serves 350 to 400 free noontime meals a day.
The remaining funds raised by the walks go to Church World Service, an international aid agency based in New York City with programs in 80 countries.
Greensboro Urban Ministry also has raised $13,000 from corporate sponsors to pay for t-shirts it then sells to people signing up for the walks. Those sales generate another $4,500.
Church World Service organizes about 2,000 CROP walks throughout the United States each year that raise nearly $17 million, including $1.6 million through 57 walks in North Carolina and 11 walks in South Carolina, says Joe Moran, the group’s regional director for the Carolinas.
The group raises another $700,000 in the two states through its “Tools of Hope and Blankets” program that raises money to buy food and other supplies for needy people overseas.
Greensboro trails only Charlotte and is just ahead of Durham in fundraising among all CROP Walks in the United States, Moran says.
Charlotte, which holds its 25th annual walk Oct. 26, raised $260,000 last year, while Durham, which holds its 30th annual walk March 28, the oldest in the state, raised an estimated $150,000 this spring, says Moran.
One-fourth of the funds raised in the Charlotte walk are divided among three local agencies – Loaves and Fishes, Crisis Assistance Ministry and Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, while one-fourth of the funds raised in Durham go to Durham Congregations in Action, which distribute the funds to 11 agencies that provide food assistance.
Arnett attributes the success of the Greensboro walks to the fact that most of the people taking part sign up through their religious congregations.
In fact, Moran says, 9 in 10 walkers at CROP walks typically are recruited from congregations.
He says businesses also have become increasingly involved in his group’s effort to supporting efforts to fight hunger.
As part its own workplace-giving program, for example, American Express last year invited Church World Service to talk about its work to the company’s Greensboro employees.