Walking alongside the hungry

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— Crop Walk organizer Tim Selby describes the event as a metaphor. As hundreds of people walk from the Meadows parking lot to the Stock Bridge Transit Center, he imagines them walking side by side with people from around the world who walk to find food for their families.

This year, Selby imagines the people of the Gulf Coast walking in search of homes, jobs and new lives, he said. "We're going to walk with them in a strong statement of solidarity."

This is the third annual Crop Walk, an event held every fall to remind Steamboat Springs residents about issues larger than the Yampa Valley.

According to the Bread.org Web site, more than 800 million people in the world have nothing to eat.

Six million children die annually from hunger-related causes.

In the United States, 13 million children live in households in which people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet.

Inspired by those statistics and a desire to help, more than 100 people participated in last year's Crop Walk. They raised $10,000 for hunger relief.

Twenty-five percent of the money raised is designated for LIFT-UP of Routt County's food bank. The other 75 percent is donated to the hunger relief organization of each walker's choice, provided the U.S. government recognizes the organization. This year, money also can be donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"A lot of hurricane relief is hunger-related," Selby said. "But I also worry that many agencies will be down this year because of all the money going to hurricane relief and to tsunami victims earlier this year.

"There are many great agencies that still need funding. Those other needs don't go away. They are not as dramatic on our television, but just as real."

After two years of leading the fundraiser, Selby is confident that it makes a difference.

"I think it's unbelievable the difference that can be made against hunger with a small amount of money," Selby said. "There is no doubt we're making a tremendous difference."

The Crop Walk begins at 10 a.m. Oct. 1 in the Meadows parking lot and ends at the Stock Bridge Transit Center. A free shuttle will return walkers to the Meadows lot. A dog shuttle also will be provided.

Participants walk four miles and are sponsored by pledges. Pledge sheets are available at United Methodist Church, 736 Oak St., or by calling Selby at 879-1290.

Participants also can sign up on the day of the walk.

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