DALTON — People gathered around the backyard of Dalton United Methodist Church on a sunny Earth Day afternoon (Sunday, April 22). The church was the starting point of the Abington Area CROP Hunger Walk, which took place on the Trolley Trail.
Participants had the option of walking 3.5 miles to Ackerly Creek and back or go the distance to Clarks Summit and back, which adds up to 6 miles. The latter is the same distance many people in third-world countries have to walk each day just to get water. But the walkers not only experienced the walk; they raised money for these countries overseas as well as for local food banks and meal programs.
The main sponsor Abington Ecumenical Ministerium, a group of pastors that represents several churches in the Abington area, reached out to the Abington community to join in the cause. Pastors include Michelle Whitlock (vice president of the ministerium), of Waverly United Methodist Church; Andrew Weidner (treasurer of the ministerium), of Clarks Summit United Methodist Church; and TJ McCabe (member of the ministerium), of Dalton and Fleetville United Methodist Churches.
Sue Six, member of Church of the Epiphany, and Sue Youtz, member of Countryside Community Church, of which many members walked, both reached out to many local businesses who became sponsors.
“We were excited about the turnout, the enthusiasm, and the generosity of everyone who donated and sponsored walkers,” Youtz said.
Sponsors who made donations for the walkers included Weis Markets which gave chips, apples, oranges, bagels and ice; Allied Services which provided water bottles; and Friends of the Poor which gave bananas to the walkers. Everything Natural and National Running Center provided door prizes. Other event sponsors included Abington Rotary, Lawrence E. Young Funeral Home, Eckel Farms, Scranton Label Inc. and Gerrity’s Supermarkets.
Countryside Conservancy members, Trail coordinator Cheryl Ellsworth, committee member Janet Sweeney and board member Jim Dougherty handed out flyers about the Conservancy in Dalton UMC’s backyard. Husband and wife Jeff and Nancy Fleming gave flyers at the two-mile checkpoint. “We’re so glad it’s (hunger walk) been embraced by the community,” said Nancy.
Brenda Spangenberg, a member of Conservancy, was one of the walkers. She walked with her dog Sadie, half Labrador retriever and half Siberian husky. The two regularly walk on the trail.
“It’s a great asset to the community,” Spangenberg said. “Countryside Conservancy should be commended for what they did with this area. It’s great for people and great for wildlife.”
Members of First Presbyterian Church Heather Ferrese, her 7-year-old daughter Candy and Candy’s aunt Shelley Lang were also on the trail, marking the first time they visited it.
“The trail is beautiful,” Heather said. “We’re first timers and we’re walking for First Presbyterian Church.”
Twenty-five percent of the monetary donations received will go to local hunger agencies. Local hunger grants have been given to Dalton Food Pantry, Fleetville Food Share, Friends of the Poor, Keystones Rescue Mission, and St. Francis Soup Kitchen. With the money raised from the 136 walkers, as well as sponsors and online donations, the Abington Ecumenical Ministerium exceeded the goal of $5,000 with the amount of $6,483. It will donate $1,620 to the local hunger agencies, which will be over $300 each. This was the first CROP Hunger Walk in 30 years with April 28 set as the tentative date for next year’s CROP Hunger Walk.
“I think it went really well for the first time in so long,” Whitlock said. “It was well attended, and I think we raised a lot of money.”