Last Sunday, about 100 people gathered in downtown Everett for the annual CROP Walk. This was the 30th year for the fundraiser in Snohomish County.
"I believe it has been in our community for as long as it has been because we've got so many people of goodwill who are concerned about what happens locally, but also about what happens outside the borders of our country," said Mary Ellen Wood, executive director of the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington.
It's one of more than 1,000 CROP Walks across the country affiliated with Church World Service, a faith-based international organization that works to alleviate hunger and bring access to clean water around the globe. The nonprofit also provides disaster relief.
Several churches around the county sent people to participate in last weekend's fundraiser. The three-mile walk started and ended at First Presbyterian Church of Everett at 2936 Rockefeller Ave.
Pastor Alan Dorway has participated in the CROP Walks said a small group of dedicated people organize the effort each year.
"I have been here for 3 1/2 years and it's been part of the DNA of my congregation," Dorway said.
The CROP Walk started as a faith-based effort to help war-torn countries in Europe and Asia after World War II. Its original name was Christian Rural Overseas Relief. The acronym now stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty.
Church World Services uses 75 percent of the money raised for its international programs, and then sends the remaining 25 percent to local efforts. In Snohomish County, the money goes to the Interfaith Association for their family shelter in Everett.
The shelter provides aid to about 10 or 11 families at a time. Those families are referred to the Interfaith Association by word of mouth or by calling 211, a phone number for people to reach a network of health and social services.
The walk is very informal, Wood said. People can pledge money for the walk, but most people just bring small donations. And recently, people also have brought nonperishable food for the Interfaith's shelter.
How much money was raised this year is still being tallied, Wood said. In past years, the walk has raised about $6,000 to $8,000.
Dorway said the walk gives youth a chance to become involved in "something larger than themselves." It's also brought people from different denominations together.
"One of the strengths recently is we have had a community barbecue after the walk," Dorway said. "It has allowed people invested in the CROP Walk to sit down and talk with each other."
Wood said the walk shows what a community can do: "Nothing is going to be accomplished if small groups and individuals don't rise up and do something about it."
Jim Davis: 425-339-3097; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual interfaith gathering
The Interfaith Association hosts its annual gathering to support The Family Shelter, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 6215 196th St. SW in Lynnwood.
Tickets are $30 or $210 for a table of eight. The evening includes dinner, a raffle, a small silent auction, a time to give generously and a visit with a family from The Family Shelter.
Last year, 46 families found safety and warmth at the shelter. More than half of the shelter's residents were children.
Register at www.interfaithwa.org or call 425-252-6672. Reservations are requested by Friday.
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