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Friday, October 5, 2018

Taking steps to relieve world hunger

Groovy choir members in CropWalk uniform bling.
When I came to St. Anne in 1994, it didn't take me long to appreciate the far-reaching ministries of social justice that have been part of this parish since at least the 1980s. Sister Lorraine Menheer, SSSF, the staff member spearheading what she called Hope Ministries, had begun a number of local efforts, including an inhouse food pantry, another one in the city of Chicago at St. Columbanus parish, and later in the 1990s began another in cooperation with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Harvest Bible Chapel in Carpentersville. In the intervening years after Sr. Lorraine's death, the ministry has further expanded with a much-enlarged food pantry on the parish property. Sister Lorraine started an annual mega-bazaar called "Annie's Attic" at which people brought used clothing, furniture, toys, bikes, lawnmowers, computers etc. to the parish over a period of a couple of weeks, all of which was organized and sold in every room and open space on campus over the period of a long weekend, often having been refurbished by dozens of volunteers. The profit on this effort often came into the six-figure territory, all of which was earmarked for helping the poor. The parish supported a year-round resale shop in Barrington that a few years ago expanded and moved into Lake Zurich, continuing to generate through the efforts of dozens and dozens of volunteers over a million dollars year, funds which are earmarked for charitable work and grants to local organizations that directly impact those in financial distress.


2015 walk, out near
It's really a privilege to work among so many people so committed to helping ease the crush of poverty in the Chicago area and even across the world. Projects in India, Mexico, and the Congo have also been part of the parish's ministry, along with Catholic Extension projects in south Texas and among migrant workers in Washington state.

It was not only Sister Lorraine who got me interested in the Carpentersville food pantry so many years ago (I think I started going before Des was in middle school, so sometime in the mid-2000s) but it was her energy and drive that got the parish and, finally, me interested and involved in the ecumenical project under the aegis of Church World Service called Crop Hunger Walk. A dozen or so of the churches in Barrington (I guess all of them, but I'm not sure exactly how many there are!) take part on the third Sunday in October. Walkers choose between the "Golden Mile," for those who need a shorter route, and a 10K walk through the streets of Barrington, raising money from friends and family to be part of this national effort to end hunger. According to 2017 CWS statistics, CropWalk raised $9,000,000 through over 100,000 participants in 900 walks around the nation.

Photo actually taken on CropWalk stroll thru Barrington
So our parish supports a few dozen walkers. Each year the choir and I get involved and try to support each other by raising awareness in our circles and asking for donations to the effort. This year, like every year, everyone is stretched thin by real ad hoc emergencies: Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, Typhoon Mangkhut in southeast Asia, the fires in the western US and Canada, and now the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi and the surrounding area. But hunger is a systemic problem, and while some work politically to change the system, in the meantime, charities like Church World Service and others try to address the immediate needs of families and individuals in need.

So here is a link to my "Cropwalk" page for 2018. I hope you'll consider supporting the Barrington Crop Hunger Walk, just one in a growing number of communities doing something to relieve hunger. Thanks, as always, for reading.

My 2015 finish line video...


My 2017 starting line video...

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