CROP Walk puts focus on clean water, here and abroad

In America, “poor” is relative. It can be easy to take for granted the simple things in life, such as water, when it is abundant in a seemingly endless flow. But, for people across the globe, access to clean water is still an uphill battle and poverty has a whole different meaning.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2005, the last year data was available for water usage, Americans used about 410 billion gallons per day in several categories, including public supply, domestic, irrigation, livestock, aquaculture, industrial, mining and thermoelectric power. For about 86 percent of Americans, drinking water comes from a public or municipal water supply straight into the faucet, and for the remaining 14 percent, water flows from a private well into the home.

That is not the case globally.

“Nothing survives without water,” said Marianne Smith, a member of Millville Methodist Church — one of the member churches in the Southeastern Sussex Ministerium that will participate in the 25th annual CROP Walk in Bethany Beach, to be held on Saturday, May 11 starting at 11 a.m. at the bandstand. She noted that elementary-aged school children and women often still walk for long distances to get less-than-stellar water for their families and communities.

“I am very passionate about it,” said Smith of Millville Methodist Church. “Put it this way: In my house we have a little zoo. We have Mr. Hermit Crab that gets fresh water in his sponge every day, two dogs and two cats that are bathed in and always drink clean water. My animals live better than most people, and that breaks my heart.”

Because clean water is so important to the viability of a person and a community’s survival, this year, Bethany Beach will join some 2,000 cities and towns nationwide in an interfaith community CROP Hunger Walk around the theme “Ending hunger one step at a time.”

“This is the 25th annual CROP walk in our area,” said Rose Mary Hendrix, an organizer of the event. “We have about 18 local churches involved, and it could be more. It’s open to civic organizations, it’s open to everybody.”

The event will kick off at 11 a.m. and the Nautical Sounds will provide entertainment. The actual walk starts at noon and afterwards there will be refreshments offered at Bethany Beach Christian Church downtown.

The participants will be raising awareness and funds to change the world in “real and measurable ways.” According to the Web site of Church World Service — an organization whose overall work and ministry is benefitted by CROP Hunger Walks — that means raising funds for digging wells that will bring clean water to villages; providing seeds and tools so that people can grow their own food; and helping communities and families rebuild after disaster.

“It really helps them be sustainable,” said Hendrix. She noted that, while Church World Service is working internationally, 25 percent of money raised in the CROP Walks stays in the community, and for the May 11 walk, the local portion will go to the Pyle Center.

To donate or to learn more about forming a team, walking or sponsoring a walker or team, visit the Web site at and click on the CROP Hunger Walk link. To get a church, organization or neighborhood involved, or for more information, contact Rosemary Hendrix at (302) 537-9417.