Community

CROP Walk raises funds, awareness for hunger on Cedar Rapids' west side

Dean Hunter (from left), Nancy Wise, chairperson, and Stasia Fine, pastor at New Disciples of Cedar Rapids, stand at Cherokee Trail, the site of Sunday's CROP Hunger Walk, in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. CROP Walks occur across the country and are sponsored by the Church World Service. The acronym stands for Christian Rural Overseas Program, which was the original name of a mission to bring Midwestern crops to post-war Europe and Asia. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Dean Hunter (from left), Nancy Wise, chairperson, and Stasia Fine, pastor at New Disciples of Cedar Rapids, stand at Cherokee Trail, the site of Sunday's CROP Hunger Walk, in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. CROP Walks occur across the country and are sponsored by the Church World Service. The acronym stands for Christian Rural Overseas Program, which was the original name of a mission to bring Midwestern crops to post-war Europe and Asia. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Nancy Wise remembers well how much the community helped her after the Floods of 2008.

When nine inches of water filled her living room that summer, friends and neighbors showed up to help her and her husband clean out and rebuild. And the Salvation Army was there, handing out food and water to keep everyone going.

“When we got flooded out, they were here every single day bringing food to us. We wouldn’t have survived,” she said. “We would have had to spend a ton of money to feed everyone who was here helping us rebuild our house.”

That’s why she’s organizing a CROP Hunger Walk to be held Sunday in Cherokee Park, to raise funds for organizations that combat hunger.

CROP (Christian Rural Overseas Program) Hunger Walks, sponsored by Church World Service, have been held across the country since 1969.

Wise is organizing the Cedar Rapids effort with other members of her church, New Disciples of Cedar Rapids, including June Wise, Diane Bremer and Dean Hunter. They also organized a garage and bake sale.

CROP Walks also have been held in Iowa City and Marion. Wise said they wanted to have one on Cedar Rapids’ west side to bring awareness about hunger on the west side in particular.

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“After my husband died, I didn’t have much but social security,” she said. “But there are people who need help more than me. If I can do something to help someone, I will. People stepped up to help us.”

The money raised will be split several ways — to a food pantry at Westdale Community Church and the Salvation Army, as well to international hunger efforts through Church World Service. Funds also will go to Hope Builders, a newer effort spearheaded by church member Daniel Reed.

He is remodeling a 24-foot camper to serve as a mobile assistance unit, with different pods that can be rolled in and out depending on the need being addressed. His vision is for the camper to be able to become a mobile food pantry, clothing distribution center or bike program for kids, depending on the need.

“I wanted to build, basically, a Swiss Army knife for the poor,” Reed said.

He is currently looking for volunteers to help finish building the pods. People interested in having Hope Builders come to their neighborhood or in helping can visit newdisciples.org/hope-builders or call him at (319) 202-5577.

He knows firsthand the struggles that come with poverty. For a time he used a wheelchair, and he experienced the challenge of collecting food from pantries, sometimes trying to navigate carrying bags of groceries on the bus across town.

“I’d like to issue a challenge — no homeless and no hungry in Cedar Rapids. Do we have the guts to do it?”

If you go

• What: CROP Hunger Walk

• Where: Cherokee Park, Johnson Avenue and Midway Drive NW, Cedar Rapids; parking and registration at Concordia Lutheran Church, 4210 Johnson Ave. NW, Cedar Rapids

• When: Registration 2 p.m., walk 2:30 p.m.

• Details: (319) 573-6846, crophungerwalk.org/cedarrapidswestia

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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