From Palmetto to Bradenton, they will walk or 'rock' to stop hunger

2014 Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty Hunger Walk is set for 2 p.m. Sunday

rdymond@bradenton.comFebruary 17, 2014 

PALMETTO ­-- They couldn't walk but they could rock.

Last year, 10 residents of Westminster Manor in Bradenton participated in an annual Manatee County walk to fight hunger even though they were wheelchair-bound. The residents rocked furiously in their rocking chairs on their front porch.

"They rocked for 15 minutes straight," said 2014 Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty Hunger Walk coordinator and treasurer John Bregger . "And that is fine. You have to be creative when you deal with seniors like us."

Bregger said he does not know if the "Rockin' 10 From Manor Land" have signed up for the 2014 CROP Hunger Walk set for 2 p.m. Sunday.

Most of this year's roughly 200 participants will meet at the First United Methodist Church of Palmetto, 330 11th Ave. W., for a 2-mile stroll across the Green Bridge to Riverwalk Park in Bradenton and back.

CROP, part of the international Church World Service, has been in existence since right after World War II, Bregger said.

"CROP used to stand for Churches Rural Overseas Project and started in the western USA," Bregger said. "The headquarters are in Elkhart, Ind."

During last year's CROP Hunger Walk, about 150 Manatee walkers raised $10,115, of which 25 percent went to Our Daily Bread to feed the hungry of Manatee County and the rest went to Church World Service to fight hunger around the world, Bregger said.

"Our goal this year is to raise $15,000," Bregger said. "We're determined to get our total up."

The Crop Hunger Walk did raise $15,298 in 2011, a record in the history of the walk in Manatee County, Bregger added.

The event has become known for "creative" walking.

"Some just walk around our church and some roll in a wheelchair," said George Strawn, a CROP Walk coordinator, with his wife, Lyn, at First United Methodist Church of Palmetto, one of about 15 local churches involved in the effort.

"I attend Christ Episcopal Church in Bradenton, where my wife and I are CROP Walk recruiters, and we have one man who uses

a cane. He can't stand up without it. But he will walk around the church Sunday," Bregger said. "The key is to do what you can do."

At the same time the walk is taking place in Manatee County, a handful of other CROP walks are being held around the state.

Michele Jurgensen , a music teacher at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School, will set up drums on the grounds at First United Methodist Church of Palmetto to give the walkers a beat as they leave at 2 p.m.

"It's all about raising some money for those less fortunate," Jurgensen said.

"This is my third walk," said The Rev. Esther Robinson of First United Methodist Church of Palmetto. "We walk because they walk, the hungry and those in pain. We walk with them, for them, because of them. The money goes to feeding ministries around the world that help those in need."

Lyn Strawn said she hears from those signing up that they appreciate that 25 percent of the money goes to Our Daily Bread.

"I love the fact that we are helping children, including those here in Manatee County," Lyn Strawn said. "This will be my eighth walk and when you are out there with others, you feel a camaraderie with others who want to help the children. We are giving them the opportunity to grow because we walk."

Those interested in walking, or even rocking, are encouraged to sign up through Bregger at 941-708-3051.

"Walkers sometimes contribute on their own or collect from friends and neighbors," Bregger said about how donations are collected. "I would say the average donation from each sponsor is $15 to $20."

Bregger asks walkers not to bring the money with them Sunday.

"I prefer not to get it all then because I like to walk, too," Bregger said. "I ask them to get in touch with me afterward."

Money raised from CROP Walks in Manatee County over the past nine years:

Year Total raised

2005 $3,884

2006 $7,691

2007 $13,787

2008 $12,769

2009 $11,344

2010 $9,701

2011 $15,298

2012 $13,726

2013 $10,115.

Participating churches and other entities this year include: Roser Memorial Community Church, Anna Maria; Christ Episcopal Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Community of Christ Church, Faith United Church of Christ, Faith United Methodist Church, Hope Lutheran Church Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Manatee United Methodist Church, Redeemer Lutheran Church, St. George's Episcopal Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, Westminster Manor, Westminster Towers and Shores, Whitfield Presbyterian Church, Bradenton; Ellenton United Methodist Church; Peace Presbyterian Church, Lakewood Ranch; and Family of God United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church, Palmetto Presbyterian Church, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Palmetto.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.

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