Columbia faith organizations recruiting for CROP hunger walk

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 | 7:24 p.m. CDT; updated 7:41 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 26, 2011

COLUMBIA — Cleo Kottwitz was 12 and living on a Missouri farm in 1947 when the Christian Rural Overseas Program began shipping grain to people in need around the world.

Immersed in a life in which food production was routine, Kottwitz remembers it as the first time he became aware of hunger as a global concern. "We knew about the source of food, and there were all these reports of people starving," he said.

Orientation for CROP walk recruiters

What: Recruiters orientation meeting for the Columbia CROP Hunger Walk to be held Oct. 2. Participants are welcome.

When: 2 p.m. Aug. 14.

Where: Russell Chapel CME Church, 108 E. Ash St.

For more information: Visit or call Cleo Kottwitz at 446-0799.

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Today, Kottwitz is recruitment coordinator for the Columbia CROP Hunger Walk to raise money to help hungry people locally and internationally. CROP now stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty, and Kottwitz has been working on its behalf since 1966.

Right now, he and coordinator Marilyn Bettenhausen are trying to enlist Columbia-area faith groups and other organizations to participate in the next CROP walk Oct. 2. Volunteers are wanted now for an Aug. 14 orientation meeting.

The walk will have one- and two-mile loops through downtown beginning and ending at First Presbyterian Church at Hitt and Cherry streets.

This year's fundraising goal is $20,000. Walkers aren't formally sponsored; they just bring in donations from family and friends.

The Church World Service, which has ending hunger as a main goal, will receive 75 percent of the donations from the CROP walk, and the other 25 percent will be distributed among three Columbia organizations: Russell Chapel Food Pantry, Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen and the Latter House Kingdom Ministries Food Pantry.

Kottwitz said the CROP walk will provide aid for long-term development and disaster relief.

“You need both Band-Aids and surgery,” Kottwitz said.

"It helps Columbia get a bigger picture of hunger needs worldwide and effective ways to deal with those needs,” Bettenhausen said.

The host site for the hunger walk this year is First Presbyterian. Water stops will be at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, Loaves & Fishes and First Christian Church. Kottwitz, who has been working on behalf of CROP since 1966, said the impact is more positive when people from a variety of faith practices do something together.

“People who don’t come together for any other reason find themselves working together,” he said.

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