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13 congregations to help raise money for Baden, Sewickley, neighboring food pantries

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Rev. Barry Lewis hoped that 10 congregations would raise a total $10,000 at this year's CROP Hunger Walk for hunger relief worldwide and local food banks.

But 13 congregations are taking part, the biggest number ever, and a food pantry in Baden will benefit from the event along with Sewickley Community Center Food Pantry, Center for Hope Ambridge Area Food Pantry and the Leetsdale food pantry.

CROP stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty, and the Nov. 3 walk marks the 10th year for the 10K, or 6.2 mile, walk starting at Osborne Elementary School.

Lewis, a retired minister from Sewickley United Methodist Church who has organized the event since it began, figured if 100 walkers from the usual 10 congregations participated, and each walker received $100 from sponsors, he would reach his $10,000 goal.

Money raised at the event goes toward economic development projects to help alleviate hunger around the world, and 25 percent of proceeds are returned to the local communities.

The expanded participation means there could be 130 walkers raising $13,000. Others who are not part of a congregation are encouraged to join the walk.

About $36,000 has been raised in the last nine years, with the highest amount, $7,750, raised in 2009.

Last year, $3,200 was donated.

Lewis said the need for food in the area is strong.

The Ambridge Food Pantry reported that 625 individuals received food in August, an increase of 234 compared to the same month last year.

CROP is the hunger relief agency of Indiana-based Church World Service. More than 2,000 communities across the United States are involved in about 1,600 CROP hunger walks each year, the organization's website said, and about 5 million walkers have participated in 36,000 walks in the last two decades.

Carol Emch, who organizes the walk for St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Sewickley and walks with her dog every year, said the event gives members a way to do one small thing to help to end hunger.

“People are happy to donate money when you are working toward such an excellent cause as this,” she said.

Lewis said the walks continue because the news continues to be full of reports of people dying simply because they don't have food.

“CROP education materials have stories of hunger and stories of actions to end the problem,” he said. “In villages across the world, thousands walk 5 to 10 miles a day just to get clean water. We walk for them.”

Lewis said he began participating in CROP walks when he lived in Erie many years ago. He eventually became coordinator of the event there.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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