For decades, Carolyn Brandeen and Kathy Holcombe have walked to feed people in Rock County and around the world.

On Sunday, April 28, they will walk again in the annual Janesville Area CROP Hunger Walk to raise money for two important organizations: ECHO and Church World Service.

ECHO is a Janesville-based organization that helps provide food, temporary housing and transportation to people in need.

ECHO will get 25 percent of the money. The rest will fight hunger internationally through Church World Service.

Church World Service is a faith-based organization that fights hunger and poverty in communities around the globe.

Brandeen and Holcombe, co-coordinators of the local walk, and the walk’s planning committee want to raise $50,000 to celebrate 50 years of national CROP walks.

Previous local walks have raised almost $1.15 million.

“People respond to this invitation because they love ECHO or they love what Church World Service has done,” Brandeen said. “Join us to make a differences in the lives of our neighbors down the street and around the globe.”

She has walked or donated to the walk every year since the early 1980s.

As a coordinator, Brandeen is delighted to work with people from many denominations.

Church World Service is a cooperative ministry of 37 Christian denominations and communions that provides self-help, disaster relief and refugee assistance. It formed in 1946 with a mission to feed the hungry after World War II.

Brandeen called the walk a chance for people “who are having a wonderful life to provide for those who are not.”

So far, more than 20 teams have signed up.

“We are just delighted with the new teams that have joined this year,” Brandeen said. “As we walk down Milwaukee Street, it is an opportunity for us to stand present for something we feel strongly about. This is a healthy way to respond to hunger.”

People also can sign up as individual walkers.

There is no registration fee, but walkers are encouraged to collect donations to support the cause.

Holcombe has been involved in the CROP Hunger Walk for at least 35 years.

When she first joined St. John Lutheran Church, she was recruited to be part of what was then called the board of social ministry. Her first job was to coordinate the St. John team.

“I have walked in the CROP Walk for most of those years,” she said.

Her involvement in social issues continued from that starting point and led to some life-changing travels around the world.

“These experiences gave me the opportunity to learn about global poverty,” Holcombe said.

She is happy some of the money raised goes to ECHO.

“But my real interest stems from the work Church World Service does around the world to help people find sustainable ways to provide food, shelter and education for families,” Holcombe said.

One Church World Service program in Indonesia gives families a rooster and three hens so they can raise chickens and collect eggs. Families also get seeds and learn how to grow home gardens.

Holcombe called the CROP Walk “a great community experience as people work together for a common cause.”

“I love to see families come and walk together,” she said. “I think my favorite walks were when my daughter was young, and a group from church would walk together, pushing her in a stroller. Thirty years later, she still wants to come and do the walk with friends.”

Anna Marie Lux is a Sunday columnist for The Gazette. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264 or email amarielux@gazettextra.com.

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