COLUMBIA — More than 200 pedestrians took over the sidewalks of downtown Columbia on Sunday as part of the annual CROP Hunger Walk.
The Communities Responding to Overcome Hunger Walk is a philanthropy sponsored nationally by Church World Service. The event raises money to provide food and supplies for people in developing countries and also provides support for local ministries.
Participants met at First Presbyterian Church to register and get directions before the walk began. After turning in their registration, walkers gathered to sing worship songs together while waiting for all participants to arrive.
“It looks like more than last year,” Edith Prince said of the number of participants waiting to begin the walk. Prince is the director of the Russell Chapel Food Pantry, one of the organizations benefiting from the fundraiser.
Local CROP Walk organizer Brad Boyd-Kennedy estimated that about 25 congregations and other organizations participated this year, including one MU sorority. He said he thought there were approximately 200 walkers Sunday.
Craig Cones, who heard about the walk through Calvary Episcopal Church, said one of the things he liked about the CROP Walk was having several diverse groups of people participating. He said he liked seeing the community come together to help others.
“There’s lots of different denominations,” Cones said, looking around the room.
After a short welcome and explanation of the route, walkers set out around 2 p.m. The route consisted of two loops: a one-mile route and an additional two-mile optional route. There were multiple water stops along the first route, including Loaves and Fishes, a Columbia soup kitchen and another organization benefiting from the fundraiser.
Another stop along the route was the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, where water and dates were provided to the walkers.
Rashed Nizam said members of the center have been participating since the walk began. This year the Islamic Center is sponsoring 10 walkers as well as serving as a pit stop along the way.
Nizam said the walk was “consistent with our education.” He said the center stresses its responsibility to help others, including the hungry.
The first loop ended back at First Presbyterian, where members of the congregation served refreshments. Some ambitious walkers set out on the second loop, while others went inside to rest and learn the preliminary fundraising results.
Inside First Presbyterian, walkers were greeted with a sign announcing their first-count total of $18,473 raised. Boyd-Kennedy said this was more than their first count last year.
Seventy-five percent of the funds raised will be sent to Church World Service to be used overseas. The remaining 25 percent will stay in Columbia and will be divided equally between Loaves and Fishes and the Russell Chapel Food Pantry. Walkers were also asked this year to bring items to donate to the Interfaith Day Center, a ministry to the homeless in Columbia.