March 13, 2013

Small Walk brings big surprise

CROP: Bethlehem-Alexander County setting out
Excited participants set out on the first-ever Bethlehem-Alexander County (N.C.) CROP Hunger Walk, ultimately exceeding their ambitious fundraising goal. Photo: Linda Bolick

When we get a call from someone interested in starting a CROP Hunger Walk where there’s never been one previously, we immediately get excited. At the same time, if it is a small rural community, we wonder what the chances for success are, given the hard economic times that we are experiencing here in the U.S. and especially in rural North Carolina.

When Rev. Steven Johnson, pastor of Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Alexander County, N.C., called earlier this year, though, we detected a decided note of seriousness and commitment to the cause. In the course of a few months, Rev. Johnson and a handful of dedicated folks put their minds and hearts into organizing Alexander County’s very first CROP Hunger Walk.

CROP: Bethlehem-Alexander registration
Registration for the Bethlehem-Alexander County CROP Hunger Walk is underway, amidst a sea of orange shirts that proudly display the congregation’s commitment to helping hungry people have enough to eat. Photo: Linda Bollick

For a first-time event, it’s always hard to accurately gauge what might be the community’s response or to settle on approximate goals. (For communities just starting out, we usually put down 50 walkers and perhaps $2,500 dollars in donations). Imagine our surprise then, when Rev. Johnson told me after the Walk team captains’ training in early September that he thought they could raise $10,000.

An even bigger surprise was to come.

On October 21, 2012, the First Annual Bethlehem-Alexander County CROP Hunger Walk took place and walkers – some 200 strong – came out and raised approximately $14,000 for hungry people. They are already excited about doing the Walk again next year – and raising even more money.

Hungry people in Alexander County and around the world have renewed hope because of the remarkable outpouring of compassion demonstrated by the people of Bethlehem United Methodist Church, who are an inspiration to us all.