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Ending world hunger is not something that one can do alone. In fact, it sometimes takes an entire community to make a difference.
The CROP Hunger Walk/Turkey Trot is one of those events that is trying make a difference. For the past several years, Lynn Wysocki-Smith has organized the event, in the hope of helping ease poverty and hunger. This year’s event will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Los Alamos Middle School. The two-and-a-half mile walk or run is free, but donations of canned food or money are welcome.
Wysocki-Smith said the Turkey Trot was started more than “30 years ago, as the season finale event of the Atomic City Road Runner Club. It was always held either the Saturday or Sunday prior to Thanksgiving Day and has always been conducted out on North Mesa. It was a runners-only event, with the course being a fairly tough course, starting somewhere near the Los Alamos Posse Shack and going down into the canyon and then returning to the start by climbing out of the canyon behind the Posse Shack. There were a few turkeys given to best time predictors.”
However, the event changed approximately 15 years ago, when the late Aaron Goldman and Ted Williams, officers of the club, decided to make it a fundraising event and increase its popularity. As a result, the event benefits LA Cares and CROP, two charities in which Goldman was involved. The course was also moved and is now conducted entirely on North Mesa — and includes a walk. Turkey and pumpkin pie winners are now drawn randomly, to give all participants an equal change of winning and also, in interest of completing the event in a “reasonable” time.
Wysocki-Smith became involved with the event to honor her mother’s memory.
“She had been very involved with the CROP Hunger Walk in Madison, Wis., and raised over $72,000 over a 15-year period,” she said. She also wants to teach her children by example that “we should be thankful for the many things we have.”
Wendee Brunish, a local animal advocate, is also involved in the event. She said there are some things learned at a very early age that stick with one throughout a lifetime. “They taught me that smoking was bad and democracy was good — I remember watching the Kennedy/Nixon debate on television that year. As I grew up, I also learned the importance of helping others who did not have all of the advantages that my family had. Always an animal lover, I have dedicated a lot of my time to organizations that help homeless cats and dogs. Donating and volunteering with organizations that reduce the suffering of needy children is also extremely important to me,” she said. “To help children here at home and around the world, we first have to make sure they have enough to eat. Children cannot grow, be healthy and learn if they do not have enough food to eat.”
Jim Little also does his part to help alleviate hunger in Northern New Mexico. He has been involved with a weekly food collection and distribution program for years. He and Goldman first collected out-of-date perishable food items from Smith’s Food and Drug. These days, he and Ron Jones collect from the Sunshine Bakery, Ruby K’s and the Los Alamos Co-op.
“We have always delivered this food to the Crisis Center of Northern New Mexico in Española,” he said. “I also served with Aaron (Goldman) in a prison ministry for years. All those hours in the car with Aaron were special and we shared from the heart on many subjects from his childhood to his service in Vienna.”
Jeanne Butler said she became involved with the CROP Walk when Goldman combined it with the Atomic City Roadrunners annual Turkey Trot.
“My family had been participating in the Turkey Trot for several years, so when Aaron needed a CROP walk recruiter from the United Church (I was also on the LA Cares Board, working with the food bank), I volunteered to sign up runners and walkers and encourage our church members to sponsor them,” she said.
Butler said her parents’ involvement with their hometown food bank in Iowa, sparked her interest in becoming a volunteer with the LA Cares Food bank. She has now been a volunteer for 15 years.
Elisa Enriquez is Wysocki-Smith’s co-coordinator for the CROP Hunger Walk.
“In many ways, the first CROP Hunger Walk I participated in brought faith back into my life. Faith in people working together to help others — in this case, to overcome poverty,” she said. “Having been born to parents who left Cuba in their teens, created a great appreciation for this great country, where we can disagree on so many issues, yet work together to help one another.”
Enriquez said while obtaining her master’s degree in social work in Chapel Hill, N.C., she became the walk recruiter for the church she belonged to.
“I will continue to help with our local CROP Hunger Walk in order to raise money for this four-star rated charity, because I believe in the inherent worth of all humans and the spirit of collaboration that the walk instills in our community,” she said.
Rosemarie Fredrickson is one of the many individuals hoping to make a difference in her community. She said she became involved in the CROP Walk because “as a board member for LA Cares, we gratefully accept 25 percent of the proceeds donated. The financial support makes it possible to help people with food — and some financially — for things like dental emergencies, but at the same time, the 75 percent, which goes to the Church World Service is a reminder that the need is greater than just Los Alamos. I am happy to know that we can reach beyond the borders of our rather small town to be helpful to those who struggle for their very existence.”
Visit churchworldservice.org for information about the walk or to make a donation, or cropwalk.org for general information. For more information about the Los Alamos CROP Hunger Walk and Turkey Trot, or to volunteer, contact Lynn Wysocki-Smith at 661-9619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.