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Walkers go distance to feed needy

Sean Bering 12 Antioch leads walkers from parking lot United Methodist Church during Antioch AreCROP Walk. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times

Sean Bering, 12, of Antioch leads walkers from the parking lot of the United Methodist Church during the Antioch Area CROP Walk. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

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Open Arms Mission

The non-profit organization is a weekly food pantry in Antioch. Clients are allowed to visit once a week to receive enough food for about six meals per person. It is one of the largest food pantries in Lake County and asserts that it is the only pantry in the county to provide fresh milk for children.

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Updated: January 6, 2012 1:45AM

What started as a handful of college students in North Dakota wanting to make a sustainable difference in terms of helping the hungry has grown to an effort that reaches around the globe.

For the first time, three churches in Antioch came together to hold that community’s first CROP Hunger Walk on Sunday.

CROP Hunger Walks are community events sponsored by Church World Service to raise funds to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world. Twenty-five percent of the funds raised Sunday will support the Antioch-based Open Arms Mission food pantry, and the remaining 75 percent will support CWS.

“The idea is to make people independent. It’s a way to produce their own food,” said St. Stephan Lutheran Church Pastor Ellen Arthur.

Arthur spearheaded the effort to hold a CROP Walk in Antioch. Antioch United Methodist Church and St. Ignatius Episcopal also participated. The goal was to get 10 members of each church to participate and to get each participant to raise $30 each.

An immediate fund-raising total was not available Sunday.

According to CWS, $150 buys 100 chickens and two wire chicken coops, while $500 creates shallow-bore hole wells.

Pastor Barb Good of Antioch United Methodist Church said she had the opportunity to see one of CWS’s projects in action in the Dominican Republic about 15 years ago. She saw a garden project, and a building constructed that was used as a school, gathering place and church.

Other projects CWS supports include creating wells for drinking water and allowing people to grow their own food, Good said.

CWS raises the money for this through working together with multiple churches of multiple denominations.

“To me, of the big values is all the churches work together to not only bring emergency relief, but to try to help with ongoing problems like safe drinking water,” Good said. “It’s all the churches working together. It’s a way people of all ages can have an impact in really making life better for people around the world.”

Some of her church members participated in the Northern Lake County CROP Walk held last month in Waukegan. However, Arthur said she wanted to try something local. Arthur said she knew members of Good’s church were involved with the Waukegan CROP Walk and that St. Ignatius Episcopal’s Sunday School curriculum referenced CROP Walk.

That’s why those three churches participated in the three-mile walk Sunday. The route went along Main Street.

Christina Bohn of Antioch and her daughter Meghan Bohn, 13, participated in the CROP Walk.

Meghan said her pastor (Arthur) visited her confirmation class and encouraged everyone to get involved with the walk. Inspired, Meghan and her friend Jennifer Switalla of Lake Villa raised $40 each.

Bohn said she liked the two charities that are benefiting from the walk.

“With so many families struggling in this economy, it’s sad for me to think about people choosing to either pay their bills to have food to eat. It’s heartbreaking to think of someone in that position,” Bohn said.

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