Crop Walk Keeps Feeding Locals

What united 136 people from local schools, religious organizations and other nonprofits recently was their goal to help feed fellow locals unable to provide for themselves.
“We’re doing great stuff,” said David Kristoff, a volunteer from St. Elizabeth Catholic Church’s St. Vincent de Paul Society in Pasadena. “All of the food we’ve got goes to local food banks and 25% of the money we’ve raised goes to those organizations.”
Crop Walk participants register — individually or as a group — and seek sponsorships for walking at the event. Those proceeds benefit the Crop Walk’s parent organization, Church World Services, in local and international endeavors combating hunger and enriching communities.
In its promotional pamphlets, CWS explains that as little as $50 can bestow a community garden somewhere, complete with gardening tools and seeds. On the opposite end, $3,000 can install water pumps in needy communities and train the locals on how to run and maintain them.
“The thing that I really like about Church World Services is that,” said Betty Cole, the longtime Westridge School for Girls teacher and coordinator for this Crop Walk. “Unlike a lot of other larger organizations that come barreling in from the outside, there’s something that doesn’t work for those. Church World Services work very much in partnership. It’s a relatively small organization, but they talk to people on the ground.”
Although a lot of what CWS, and by extension Crop Walk, does relates to feeding and watering communities, there also is an empowerment edge to their work, too, to “make people more effective agents of change,” Cole said.
A few years back, Cole explained, there was an AIDS treatment center in South Africa that had become essentially home to AIDS patients who had been stigmatized out of their communities.
CWS workers took note that those patients often sang together to keep spirits high, and helped them form a full choir that would eventually tour the world and showcase that AIDS is not a death sentence nor should it ostracize people.
CWS also had helped female doctors escape the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan and later relocate them back after the regime fell. Other promotional material highlighted work in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa and showed 60% of CWS’ work comprises refugee resettlements.
“A lot of people use that material to learn what Church World Services does,” Cole said, hoping to garner more supporters for the future.
In its 41 years of activity, the Pasadena-area Crop Walk has generated about $1.15 million total and, if this year’s collection table was any indication, mountains of nonperishable food for local food pantries and other charitable organizations.
Cole said at least $31,000 was raised this year, although she expects another $2,000 or $3,000 to be added when the late donations are tabulated. Donors also added nearly 2,000 nonperishable goods that will be distributed throughout several food pantries.
A quarter of those funds will be distributed to Friends in Deed, Bad Weather Shelter, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Foothill Unity Center and Giving Bank of Holy Family, Cole said.
“It’s just kind of a fun way for people to get together over local and global hunger relief,” Kristoff said, adding it was helpful for organizations to touch base with each other for future, unrelated endeavors.
Ann Pibel, a librarian at Mayfield Senior School and National Honor Society adviser, led a group of Mayfield students at the Crop Walk that afternoon, each proudly representing their school with shirts and donations.
“Our kids want to set an example to our community and want to bring awareness to the needs,” Pibel said. “In the Pasadena area, people are hungry. That’s sinking home to them. They’re students. They know how hard it is on a good day to get to school and concentrate, so it’s something that really resonates with them.
“Hopefully they learn something doing this,” Pibel added.

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