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Steps to stamping out hunger

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Every year, approximately 1,400 communities around the country take part in a Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty (CROP) Hunger Walk, in an effort to take a stand against hunger and help those in need. Los Alamos is no exception.

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This year, the “CROP Hunger Walk & Turkey Trot” will start at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 24, at the Los Alamos Middle School and will feature a 2.57-mile family fun walk/run, with an optional shorter 1.7-mile route that bypasses the stables.

How does a walk raise money for hunger? Those participating in the walk ask their co-workers, friends and family to sponsor them by donating money for their efforts in the walk. They can get a sponsor packet from walk organizers at their place of worship or by calling those named at the end of this article. Walkers and runners turn in the funds when they register the day of the walk.

A full 25 percent of these donations go to local hunger efforts. In Los Alamos, it goes to the LA Cares food pantry. The remaining 75 percent goes toward global hunger relief efforts through Church World Service (CWS) or any one of 37 denominational partners of CWS, chosen by the participant.

CROP Walk participants and Turkey Trot runners may sign up online to participate. They can then post a link in their favorite social media site, or email out a link to their contacts. Anyone can sponsor their favorite walkers with online donations. The website is cropwalk.org; just click on the state of New Mexico on the map shown there and, on the next page that comes up, look down the list for the Los Alamos Walk and click on it. Prompts will tell you how to sign up or how to sponsor someone.

It was the late Aaron Goldman who started the Los Alamos CROP Walk back in 1997. In 2001, Goldman and fellow Atomic City Roadrunner, Ted Williams, coordinator of the Turkey Trot, joined forces with the CROP Walk, creating a larger family-friendly event. These days, the CROP Walk/Turkey Trot is coordinated by Lynn Wysocki-Smith and Elisa Enriquez, with support from Jeanne Butler (LA Cares Board), Ted Williams and Cynthia Biddlecomb.

Lynn Wysocki-Smith got involved with the CROP Walk because her mother was involved in one in Madison, Wisconsin, for 15 years. Marcelle Wysocki died in 2007, but Wysocki-Smith said her involvement in the Los Alamos event is a good way to remember her mother. During Wysocki’s involvement in the Madison walk, she raised $72,000 for Luther Memorial Church.

“We’re trying to raise awareness for Los Alamos citizens. There’s a need here and around the world,” Wysocki-Smith said. The walking that’s done during the event is symbolic, Wysocki-Smith said. “Hungry people in developing countries typically walk as much as six miles a day to get food, water and fuel to take their goods to market. CROP Hunger Walk participants walk to be in solidarity with their struggle for existence,” according to a press release.

Butler said she got involved in the event because of her daughter. “There was a contest when she was in 7th grade and parents worked at the food bank in our hometown … someone was needed from my church, so I volunteered,” she said.

Cynthia Biddlecomb said she has walked in CROP Walks in nearly every state in which she has lived and she’s done the Los Alamos Walk at least four times. “This is one way I can put my body where my heart is, helping to support people who are not food self-sufficient around the world and in our own country,” she said. Biddlecomb pointed out that Church World Service sent much needed relief supplies to flood victims in Colorado within days of the September floods. “Our dollars through the CROP Walks can return to support crises in our own region,” she said.

Some adults participating in the walk choose to bring children in strollers and leashed dogs. At the end of the walk, there will be random drawings for turkeys and pumpkin pies. There is no cost to participate, but donations of canned food or money, as well as those sponsor dollars from friends and family are welcome. Snacks are provided to participants after the walk. For more information, contact Lynn Wysocki-Smith at 661-9619, or Elisa Enriquez at 690-1138, or visit cropwalk.org.