Monday, October 03, 2011

So the last shall be first ...

... and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. So there! Just in case you want to make something of the fact the tail end of Team St. Andrew came in last, DEAD LAST, in Sunday's four-mile CROP Hunger Walk. In all fairness, Alan and Lisa (at left above) moved out at a rapid clip and finished with the pack. It was Sue and Sherry (and Frank) who provided the tail end. Fred, who was serving popcorn, water and cookies at the Rotary rest stop, offered moral support. And as another illustration of the great unfairness of life, he won not one but two of the raffle drawings (he gave the prizes away).

CROP hunger walks are a project of Church World Service, an association of some 35 denominations (all are welcome, however) dating from 1946 that fights hunger and proverty in some 80 countries, including this one. Since it began as a Midwest initiative, CROP stood initially for Christian Rural Overseas Program. Now, it stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty.

No one counted heads, but I'm guessing there were 70 or more of us participating on an absolutely spectacular October day. Sunshine, colorful foliage, temperature just right. No word on the total raised yet, but Team St. Andrew, led by Sherry, took in something approaching $500 --- not bad at all.

Jill, in the foreground (left) at the registration table, previously chair of this event, was a principal organizer. Capt. Samuel, giving us our marching orders here, served as this year's chair.

Of the amount raised, 25 percent stays local to fight hunger here --- at the food bank and through other programs. The balance is spread worldwide to fund sustainable self-help and development programs and provide disaster relief and refugee assistance.

CWS estimates that 43 million people in the United States do not have enough to eat and that worldwide, a child dies of hunger-related causes every five seconds. That's hard for someone who has never gone hungry or lacked clean water to drink to take in.

Like I said, we came in last --- but no one had told us it was a race although it was obvious some thought it was when the leaders of the pack took off running north on Eighth Street. By the time we stopped for water at First Christian Church, we had fallen to the rear.

At the site of a former trailer court in the northwest part of town --- now cleared and graded and looking like a park with tall trees turning fall colors, we admired the scenery. Then Sue put the brakes on a dog that was trying to follow us and, while passing the home of a cousin, she heard the sound of a beer can being popped open in the side yard so we stopped to visit briefly (we were drinking water).

By that time, other tail-enders were disappearing across the railroad tracks with Johnson Machine Works in the distance.

We turned south on Hy-Vee Road and sat down at the Rotary stop in the Extension office for popcorn and to to listen to a presentation on the Backpack Food Program that organization, partnering with Kiwanis and the school district, is organizing this fall. Hy-Vee is providing transportation from Des Moines for the food and offering a place for storage and assembly.

The goal is to send food home for the weekend with any elementary student who needs it and you would be astonished at the number of kids in the Chariton district who do. What a great idea!

By the time we hit the road again, the "sag wagon" making its final pass like a well-meaning blue vulture circling roadkill and offering rides home, the rest of the CROP walkers had vanished. We just kept walking --- down to the corner, up Court Avenue and across the square to the starting point, First Presbyterian, talking all the way. Lots of soup, sandwiches and cookies left when we got there. What a great way to spend an afternoon.

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