As we walked in our CROP Hunger Walk on the West Side of Evansville on a cold Indiana day, a man carrying a backpack who appeared to be homeless, asked why we were walking. When told we were walking for hungry people in our community and throughout the world, he reached into his backpack and pulled out a crumpled dollar bill. I was reminded of a CROP Hunger Walk motto: “We walk because they walk.” We walk because the man who donated what may have been his last dollar walks.
We had witnessed another example of selfless giving when we arrived at Simpson United Methodist Church, the location of the West Side food pantry that is part of the Evansville Emergency Food Pantry Consortium. Simpson UMC was the host church for this year’s walk.
As we arrived, several volunteers were unloading a pickup truck full of potatoes gleaned by the Society of St. Andrew. We were reminded of the dedication of so many volunteers who help serve those in need of food.
This year’s Evansville Area CROP Hunger Walk included 80 participants from 20 churches in four counties in Southwestern Indiana, Vanderburgh, Posey, Gibson and Warrick. Some were familiar faces. Some were new to the CROP Hunger Walk.
Among the familiar faces was Al Spillman in his multi-colored clown wig, a retired psychologist whose dedication to the cause is well known. Al is the perennial champion fund-raiser for Church World Service and its Evansville grantees, the Tri-State Food Bank and the Evansville Emergency Food Pantry Consortium. This year he broke his own record, collecting $2,373.02 from friends, his fellow church members at St. John’s United Church of Christ – East, and his family physician.
Also among this year’s walkers were our “security team” members, Keith Lochmueller, president of The Loch Group, a large engineering company, who has supported the walk for many years, and two of his employees, Matt Wannemuehler and Jim Farney. The three men donned orange vests and kept us safe throughout the walk.
Leading the way, as he has done every year for several years, was Jeff Lyons, chief meteorologist for WFIE-Channel 14, the local NBC affiliate. In addition to serving as Grand Marshall for our walk, Jeff promotes the walk the week before during his nightly weathercasts.
I am grateful to so many loyal volunteers, but I will name just one more, Michael Erwin, Development Director for Habitat for Humanity of Evansville, whose computer skills keep communication flowing about our CROP Walk throughout the year – to the everlasting gratitude of its technically-challenged chair.
Funds are still coming in, but we are already looking forward to next year. Even more, we look forward to the day when no one in our community or the world will lack for food, water, or shelter.
Rev. Phil Hoy, Chair, Evansville Area CROP Hunger Walk