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A helping foot
Area Crop Walks help feed the hungry in U.S. and beyond
By Rupa Shenoy | Daily Herald Staff

Area Crop Walks to raise money to feed the hungry kick off this weekend in West Chicago.


Mark Black | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/29/2007 12:32 AM

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West Chicago will do its part to keep a 60-year-old tradition of fighting hunger alive this weekend by hosting the first of a dozen walks throughout the area.

Registration for a 3-mile Crop Walk to raise money to feed the hungry begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at the old train station.

"We're always looking for more walkers," said Evelyn Canabal, a West Chicago business owner and resident helping to organize the event.

Crop Walk is an effort by the humanitarian agency Church World Service to raise money for the hungry both in and outside the United States. An estimated 2,000 communities participate each year.

Recruiters from different churches throughout the area are striving to increase turnout this year, Canabal said. A religious education teacher at St. Mary's Parish in West Chicago, Canabal is using the walk as a way to teach her students to live their faith.

"This is one of the best ways to help your community," she said.

Music will send off the walkers, and there will be rest stops along the way. Organizers are still working on hot chocolate and snacks. Any family or group that collects $200 or more Sunday will win a pin.

Crop Walks began after World War II as an effort to help Europeans devastated by war. Rural farmers brought corn and soybeans to railroad stations, where the food was blessed and loaded into cars donated by railroad companies, said Janet Young, a local Church World Service director.

The farmers provided 80 percent of all the aid that went to Europe, she said.

At the time, the acronym CROP stood for "Christian Rural Overseas Projects." Now it means "Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty," Young said.

One-fourth of all money raised in a community stays in a community. West Chicago's will go to help efforts at Public Action to Deliver Shelter and the Northwest DuPage Walk-in Ministry, Canabal said.

The rest of the money goes toward programs like small loans to residents of Third-World countries.

"Crop Walk money isn't pegged to go to any specific disaster effort," Young said. "That's what makes the money so important."

While helping out during and after disasters is key, issues like ongoing hunger still need our attention, she said.

The message is getting across. As Crop Walk celebrates its 60th anniversary, it seems to be getting more and more popular, Young said.

If you go

What: 3-mile West Chicago Crop Hunger Walk

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Old train station, 306 Main St., West Chicago

Area Crop Walks

For details, visit

Aurora: Oct. 7

Barrington: Oct. 14

Naperville, Bolingbrook: Oct. 14

Carpentersville, Dundee, Algonquin: Oct. 14

Elmhurst, Bensenville, Wood Dale: Oct. 14

Lombard, Villa Park: Oct. 14

Carol Stream area: Oct. 21

Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale, Burr Ridge: Oct. 21

Elgin: Oct. 21

Bartlett: Oct. 21

Downers Grove, Woodridge, Lisle area: Oct. 21

St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia: Oct. 21