DeKALB – It has been seven years since Sondra King died, but her mission is as strong as ever thanks to the hundreds of residents who gather annually to fight hunger.
Sunday’s Sondra King Memorial CROP Hunger Walk is expected to bring more than 250 participants to First Congregational United Church of Christ for a four-mile walk to raise awareness and money for hunger prevention globally and locally.
Funds raised by the walk will support sustainable self-help and development projects and provide disaster relief in the U.S. and more than 80 other countries.
Twenty-five percent of the money raised stays in the community and will be shared among Hope Haven, Meals on Wheels, Safe Passage and food pantries at The Salvation Army, Bethlehem Lutheran Church and Sycamore United Methodist Church.
Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty has been organizing walks against hunger since the 1960s and has raised more than $264 million to assist those struggling to feed themselves and their families.
Lolly Voss, an event organizer, said King dedicated her life to helping research projects in developing countries to improve the nutrition for impoverished children, which is why the walk has carried her name in recent years.
Voss said she is glad to see participation grow every year, especially among Northern Illinois University students, and believes the community can raise more than the $31,443 it generated last year, making it one of the most successful CROP Hunger Walks in the state.
“I just think this is a marvelous and unique opportunity for the community to come together all with one mission in mind and that is to walk against hunger,” Voss said. “We have a need with children and families in poverty.”
Martha O’Gorman, a local dietitian who has participated in the walk for the past decade, said she has seen an increase in the need at food pantries and community kitchens.
While obesity is the “food issue” that receives the most attention, O’Gorman said hunger is still a major concern and both problems often have the same root cause – poverty.
“It is surprising that in an affluent country, we have as much hunger as we do,” O’Gorman said. “But, I think that a lot of people in DeKalb are very aware of the issues and we get tremendous support from them.”
O’Gorman encouraged anyone interested in walking to come to the event Sunday; registration begins at 2 p.m. at the church. Step-off will take place about 2:30 p.m. For those who do not want to walk the four-mile route, a “Golden Mile” trail is also available, and both routes will be detailed on maps provided to participants.
Those interested in helping can also visit churchworldservice.org and search for the DeKalb walk to donate to the cause.
Donations will be accepted through the end of the year.