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CROP of willing helpers raise funds for needy

Waukegan-10/21/12 Sun./St. AnastasiChurch
Amy Gregorski Beach Park helps with road crossings for CROP Walk Sunday Waukegan.
| Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

Waukegan-10/21/12, Sun./St. Anastasia Church Amy Gregorski, of Beach Park helps with road crossings for CROP Walk Sunday in Waukegan. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

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The Christian Rural Overseas Program was started in 1947 to help fight hunger. CROP Hunger Walks are organized by local congregations or groups to raise money to support programs to end hunger both locally and globally. Funds provide food, water and resources to empower people to meet their needs. More than 5 million walkers have participated in more than 36,000 walks across the country in the last two decades.

Source: Church World Service

Updated: December 21, 2012 1:58AM

Marilyn Hall of Waukegan and her two grandchildren, Victoria and Patrick Pasko of Zion, were happy to make the bell ring Sunday.

The bell in question was rung by volunteers at the Christian Rural Overseas Program Hunger Walk. Anyone who raised at least $200 got to ring the bell at Sunday’s event.

Hall and her grandchildren raised $620.

“I’m so proud. I thought my kids would gain something (from participating). I was so thrilled (at our total),” Hall said.

This was their first year participating in the event that aims to help the hungry both locally and overseas. Seventy-five percent of the event’s total will go to Church World Service, the organization that started CROP Hunger Walks. The remaining 25 percent will go to nine local food pantries, according to Northern Lake County Illinois Hunger Walk coordinator Pat Ostrander of Winthrop Harbor.

“I’m glad it goes to the world but also local. That makes it important to me,” Hall said.

Sunday was the 30th year for Northern Lake County’s Hunger Walk, Ostrander said.

“We’re very proud of that,” he said.

About 30 different organizations signed up to participate in the event, he said. More than 500 people were expected to participate, Ostrander said. Participants collected money and then chose between walking a 3.1-mile or 6.2-mile route in Waukegan. The route started at St. Anastasia Catholic Church and wound through historic and architecturally interesting homes in northeast Waukegan. The event raised more than $5,000.

Northern Lake County’s event is the second-biggest CROP Hunger Walk in the state, according to Dawn Roucka, regional director with Church World Service. Naperville is the biggest.

“This is one of the older walks in the Illinois area,” Roucka said.

There have been about 100 walks across the state within the past two weeks, she said. About one-fifth of those walks celebrated a milestone, she said.

CROP Hunger Walk participants can elect to keep 25 percent of the proceeds for local organizations. Northern Lake County has always chosen to do so, Ostrander said.

The nine local beneficiaries include Calvary Community Care, First Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Soup Kitchen, First United Methodist Church Free Meal, Holy Family Soup Kitchen, Mt. Sinai Baptist Church Food Pantry, PADS Lake County, St. Anastasia Soup Kitchen, Shiloh Baptist Church Soup Kitchen and Food PAntry and Christian Outreach of Lutherans (COOL).

COOL will serve almost 50,000 people in the Waukegan and Ingleside area this year, according to COOL program operations manager Gayle Olson. She said the funds from Sunday’s event will be appreciated.

“It’s very nice that people get together and realize that there is hunger here and worldwide,” Olson said.

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