Human nature seems to be such that should all civilization pass away, give us but food, clothes and shelter and we immediately turn back to help those who have them not. And even in this affluent area, there are people who don't always know where or when they'll be able to take their next meal.
There's a good deal of local outreach targeting these needy families, via the Pyle Center Food Closet (state services, in Roxana), the Selbyville Food Pantry, Joseph's Storehouse, the Helping Hands Food Bank and others.
The Southeast Sussex Ministerium, a group of local churches (all different denominations), also runs the annual “You Can Help” drive, especially targeting vacationers who might otherwise leave cupboards stocked at the ol' summer cottage.
(As organizers pointed out, subsequent vacationers don't usually eat that food, either. It just piles up, and then sits there over winter, when less-well-off families are most in need.)
There are local efforts to help address international hunger, too – and one, scheduled for Sunday, April 30, that helps needy families both here and abroad.
It's the annual CROP Walk, to support Church World Service (CWS). Some 25 percent of the proceeds come back to the community, and the rest (75 percent) heads overseas, to help the citizens in poorer nations.
Of the 25 percent that returns to the local community, St. George's United Methodist Church parishioner and CROP Walk organizer Nancy Baugher said state services at the Pyle Center (Roxana) typically receive half.
The other 12.5 percent went to the Helping Hands Food Bank (Beth'el Tabernacle Church of God, Clarksville) last year, and Joseph's Storehouse at the Dagsboro Church of God the year before that, Baugher said.
As Helping Hands Director Dane Anemone pointed out, “Money from the CROP Walk comes in right before Thanksgiving, which is a great blessing,” she said. “We double the amount of food that we provide to people at that time.”
Anemone said they saw a lot of seasonal workers who were laid off over winter and starting to run short on money by the holidays. “They do need the help through the winter months,” she said.
“America is very blessed,” Anemone stated. “There's absolutely no reason anyone should go hungry.”
But around the world, the situation is more complex.
According to the CWS Web site, (www.churchworldservice.org), 840 million people are undernourished, worldwide. Total population has passed the 6.5 billion mark (U.S. Census Bureau estimates), so that's more than one in every eight people.
CWS notes similarities – with a subtle difference – in America, where more than 33 million Americans can't afford to meet their basic food needs.
There are just less than 300 million people in America (U.S. Census), so that's almost one in every nine people.
However, as Bethany Beach Christian Church's Rev. Sir Walter Scott pointed out, America is famous for throwing food away the minute it touches an expiration date. It might take three left turns rather than a right, but a good portion of that food finds its way to America's least fortunate.
Citizens of many of the poorer nations did not have the same access to Dumpsters behind restaurants. As Baugher pointed out, “Our poor are rich, next to them.”
Baugher's helped with the annual CROP Walk for the past nine years, and has teamed up with Scott for this year's event.
In the past, walkers have used the Bethany Beach bandstand as the starting point for the roughly 2.5 mile loop. However, because the bandstand area is still a construction zone at this point, Baugher and Scott are asking that everyone planning to participate come by the Bethany Beach Christian Church instead.
(The church is on North Pennsylvania Avenue, a stone's throw from the basketball court and playground on Garfield Parkway.)
Last year's CROP Walk participants enjoyed fine weather, and Scott said he'd be praying for another nice day – but he also said they'd hold the event rain or shine. “Every little bit helps,” he pointed out. “Anything is better than if we do nothing.”
CWS initiated the CROP program in 1947, to help Midwestern farmers share grain with hungry people in post-World War II Europe and Asia.
Today, the 75-percent portion goes for international child survival programs, advocacy for debt relief and “tools of hope.”
? For instance, $15 for a gardening kit (hoe, shovel, vegetable seeds);
? $25 for a set of blankets (five);
? $175 for a family-sized tent.
CWS also contributes for wells and water systems, technical training and micro-enterprise loans, and reports an 18.5-percent overhead (combined management, fundraising and information sharing), according to the Web site.
Again, this year's CROP Walk is slated for Sunday, April 30, setting out from the Bethany Beach Christian Church from 2 to 4 p.m.
Walkers aren't sponsored, per se – there's no need to raise X dollars per mile or anything like that. The organizers suggested they'd welcome donations in any denomination or amount, but no contribution was required for participation.
For people who would not be able attend but who would like to contribute, Scott asked that checks be made out to Church World Service and mailed either directly to CWS, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515, or to the Bethany Beach Christian Church, P.O. Box 92, Bethany Beach, DE, 19930.
For more information, contact the Rev. Sir Walter Scott at 539-7034.