|By Katelyn Gendron|
Reminder Assistant Editor
Benefit walks have been occurring regularly throughout the Valley over the past few months, bringing thousands into Stanley and Forest Parks to help find cures for numerous debilitating and lethal diseases.
However, organizers of the annual Agawam/West Springfield CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty) Hunger Walk on Oct. 19 are expecting less than 300 people to attend.
"The responsibility to care for others will go on the shoulders of a few," Candy Boucher, executive director of the Parish Cupboard in West Springfield, said in an interview with Reminder Publications.
Twenty-five percent of funds raised at the Agawam/West Springfield CROP Hunger Walk will be donated to the Parish Cupboard, while the remaining funds will go to Church World Services, which provides humanitarian aid to those in some 80 countries.
Boucher explained funds raised at this year's walk are needed now more than ever because of the increasing number of families coming to the food pantry for assistance.
"At the moment we are really starting to need food," she said. "And [we] need our community to share their food with us. I always emphasize that everybody doing a little bit helps a lot. I don't care how expensive food gets, anyone can make a $10 donation worth of food."
Diana Forfa, coordinator of the West Springfield churches for the walk, said the event raised approximately $12,000 last year and was attended by a vast majority of Agawam residents.
Sue O'Hare, coordinator of the Agawam churches for the walk, explained that many priests and ministers are making the walk mandatory for students enrolled in Christian education classes.
"[They're] trying to get at the children's level and let them know how lucky they are and the little that they can do makes such a huge impact on the poor and starving in the world," O'Hare said. "[This walk] is a wonderful opportunity for fellowship and teaching our children to help out those who are less fortunate."
Registration for the Agawam/West Springfield CROP Hunger Walk will begin at noon at St. John's Church on Main Street in Agawam. Sponsor sheets are available at participating Agawam and West Springfield churches.
For more information about Agawam churches participating the CROP Hunger Walk call Forfa at the First Congregational Church at 734-7667.
To learn more about West Springfield churches call O'Hare at 786-2547.
For more information about the CROP Hunger Walk and the Church World Service go to www.cropwalk.org.