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CROP Walks in Salisbury, China Grove on Sunday

The CROP Walk in Rowan County celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, with events Sunday in Salisbury and China Grove, both beginning at 3 p.m.
Registration starts at City Park gazebo in Salisbury at 2 p.m., with registration in China Grove at First United Methodist Church, 110 W. Church St., also at 2 p.m.
The longtime fundraiser is getting a shot of new energy and enthusiasm, organizers say.
“We want to get the CROP Walk revived in Rowan County,” says Melissa Shue, a member of Milford Hills United Methodist Church, one of the churches leading the effort.
Shue remembers walking in the CROP Walk in the ’70s and ’80s, when the route was 10 miles and when participants raised some $30,000 a year.
“This was the original walk,” Shue says. “Now there are so many other causes that eclipse the CROP Walk.”
The walk has decreased from 10 miles to 3 miles, and 25 percent of the money goes to fight hunger locally. Funds will go to Rowan Helping Ministries, Meals on Wheels, and Main Street Mission in China Grove.
“The main focus of CROP is to raise funds to stop hunger,” Shue explains. That may be through distributing food, teaching people how to raise their own food, or helping them get established in trades to become independent. CROP helps in many crises such as the recent Hurricane Sandy.
Annie Bates has been involved with CROP on and off over the years, she says. Last year, she realized it was time to step up efforts at her church, Trinity Presbyterian. “I told our youth, ‘We’ve got to get involved.’”
“I feel like we’re gonna have more participation this year than last year,” Shue says. “That’s our goal.”
In 2012, CROP raised $18,000. Last year, the combined events raised $14,000, according to Nancy Yates, who coordinates the South Rowan portion of the walk. Rockwell had its walk last Sunday, and is still collecting donations. Last year, that walk raised $3,000, Yates says. “Having three locations maximizes our efforts in the county.”
All told, about 30 local congregations are participating, Yates says. She also hopes that students from Carson and South Rowan high schools will participate in the South Rowan CROP Walk.
“We encourage youth groups to walk,” Shue says, “but we’re trying to remind people that everyone can do this.”
You can walk the whole route in Salisbury, she says, or you can just walk a portion.
The Rev. Steve Combs, Milford Hills’ pastor, has been working to contact local congregations over the past couple of months.
“It’s all about relationships,” he says, “and relationships take time to build. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been a great gift as far as meeting new people.”
Last year, Bates says, she ran into an old friend during the walk.
“We just got to talking and laughing and having a good time,” she says.
“I love her point about the fellowship,” Shue says. “Any time you get a group of people working together, that’s what it’s all about. This walk gives us a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We will be helping people we don’t know, but that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
The two walks will happen rain or shine. For more information about the Rowan County CROP Walk, call Nancy Yates at 704-857-7454.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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