December 22, 2014

Trampling hunger

AuGres churches unite to fight starvation

Tim Barnum
CROP walk participants cross US-23 in AuGres on May 3.
By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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AuGRES — The AuGres Christian Charities’ second annual CROP walk was held May 3, as walkers and runners from several AuGres area churches, along with community members at-large, gathered at St. Mark’s Catholic Church to travel on foot through the city of AuGres for a fundraiser to battle world hunger.

“It’s about hunger, fighting world hunger, fighting it locally and internationally,” said Reverend Tim Bender, one of the coordinators for the CROP walk. “25-percent of everything we collect stays right here in AuGres for the (AuGres Christian Charities) food bank. … Last year that was $2,200.

“The rest of it goes throughout the world to combat world hunger.”

Father James Falsey, St. Mark’s Catholic Church, says Bender used to be active in a CROP Walk in Tawas and it transferred over to AuGres.

“We thought ‘We can do better,’” Falsey said.

In its second year, about 73 people took time out of their day to participate in the walk. The total amount raised is currently unknown, but Bender did say last year about $9,000 was raised.

While Bender is one of the originators of the fundraiser, he added that the success of the CROP walk isn’t only about the churches involved.

“The entire business community here has been helping us,” Bender said. “It is a total community effort. That’s what this community does best – come together to help those in need.”

Volunteers from the AuGres Care Center also manned a rest stop along the CROP walk route to offer refreshments for participants.

And with unemployment and foreclosures currently taking center stage all over the U.S., Falsey says the CROP walk is more important than ever.

“Given the economy, more and more people are coming (to the food bank),” he said, adding that through coordination with other food banks and programs, he estimates approximately $125,000 of food was distributed in 2008 with the help of AuGres Christian Charities and the other banks it works with .

One misconception Bender says people have had about the CROP walk and AuGres Christian Charities, though, is that it only serves the area it’s located in.

“This is not just for AuGres, it’s for the whole of Arenac County,” he said, adding that due to pride or humility, many don’t know how many people around them in Arenac County are suffering from hunger. “You might be talking to a good friend of yours locally and never know that they’re hungry.”

Once someone begins receiving food from AuGres Christian Charities’ food bank, Bender says there is one stipulation.

“The only restriction we have is you can get it (food) once a month,” he said. “Most of the people come in here and they need it two or three times (per year).”

Falsey says AuGres Christian Charities was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2001.

For more information on AuGres Christian Charities or the CROP walk, contact St. Paul Lutheran Church at 989-876-7415, St. Mark’s Catholic Church at 989-876-7925 or any other AuGres area church.

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