Fighting Hunger One Step at a Time

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The 2009 CROP Hunger Walk along the Back Bay. Photo by Peggy Goetz

If you want to help in the fight against world hunger and poverty while enjoying a beautiful walk around Back Bay with friends, come to the 23rd Annual United Interfaith CROP Hunger Walk on Sunday Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church School.

“CROP Walks are great because they have a dual purpose which is to support world hunger and also to help people within our own community who need it,” explained Newport resident and volunteer Bob Johnston. “An interfaith walk is such a great way to build a bridge between different faiths and help contribute to world peace. Donations come from different churches, temples and mosques. It’s an opportunity to walk with people of other faiths and donate for a cause outside their own faith community.”

Bob explained that walkers can choose either a 4- or a 7-kilometer walk, both starting and ending with entertainment, prizes, food and drink at Our Lady Queen of Angels. He also said that Wahoo’s Fish Tacos continues to be very supportive by providing the brochures as well as t-shirts and meal coupons for every walker.

The goal of this year’s CROP Walk is 350 walkers raising $35,000.

The Newport Mesa Irvine Interfaith Council, led by Rev. Julie Elkins, president, and Executive Director Jim de Boom, has sponsored the Walk for 15 years as an outreach program for their members. For more than 12 years, Bob Johnston from Our Lady Queen of Angels and Alan Young from St. Mark Presbyterian Church have helped organize the details of the local CROP Walk on behalf of the Interfaith Council.

Barry Koff, director of religious education at Temple Bat Yahm, has also enjoyed the CROP Walk for many years.

“I started in the CROP Walks when our twins were in strollers and they’re graduating this year, so that tells you just how long!” Barry said. “Central to Judaism, and every other faith, is that the highest deed you can do is to save a life, so feeding the hungry is the most basic thing we can do.

“We take all our soon-to-be Bar and Bat Mitzvah students to participate in the walk, and they all love it. It teaches them that coming of age is not just about a big party, but it’s about becoming a responsible member of society. The students get their own sponsorships, which is different than just having their parents write a check. They take ownership of the fundraising and create their own web pages to do so.”

“One year Temple Bat Yahm’s youth group was the second highest fundraising group there was!” Barry continued. The Walk is a great lesson and eye opener for our kids; they learn that people go to bed hungry at night, and often not all that far from home. There is a Jewish tradition that says, you’re not obligated to solve the problems of the world, but you’re not excused for attempting to solve them. The kids are all jazzed and excited to do it again! I just love the spirit of the whole interfaith idea and the continuing dialogues that happen between the different faiths.”

CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service. Founded in 1946, Church World Service works around the world providing refugee assistance, self help development programs, advocacy and disaster relief. This fall, there are over 1600 CROP Walks in the U.S organized around the theme “Ending hunger one step at a time.”

CROP stands for “Communities Reaching Out to People,” and 75 percent of the proceeds raised go to designated world hunger relief programs, and 25 percent of the Walk’s proceeds will go to the following five local charities: Jewish Family Services, Catholic Worker Santa, Ana. OC Interfaith Shelter, SOS and Stand Up for Kids.

“We love what CROP Walks do nationwide, and locally as well,” said Steve Goetz, who has been involved in the walk with his wife, Peggy, since 2000. “We enjoy walking with our church, Irvine United Congregational, and I describe the Walk as a joyous celebration of people coming together for a very serious purpose. We all have fun, whatever the weather.”

CROP Walks are designed to be fun ways for friends and neighbors come together and walk a few miles to make positive steps forward in the quest to end world hunger. High school students can receive community service hours for their participation.

The CROP Walk begins Our Lady Queen of Angels School, starting at 1 p.m.

To register and/or donate, go online to and scroll to Newport/Irvine Walk. For information, email [email protected] or call Jim de Boom 714-921-8665 or Bob Johnston 949-644-4949.

Cindy can be reached at [email protected].









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