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SMC walks to fight hunger

Emilie Kefalas | Monday, September 30, 2013

Saint Mary’s asked students o stop local and global hunger this weekend by supporting the annual St. Joseph County CROP Hunger Walk.
More than 400 walkers and donors, including students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross, participated in the walk in Howard Park.
Saint Mary’s Learning Tree Director Jayne Fogle said the walk represents a community-wide benefit sponsored by Church World Services to raise funds in an effort to end hunger and poverty at home and around the world.
“We were thrilled when Saint Mary’s came on board. That worked out really great,” Fogle said. “It’s my passion.  I get so excited every time. I go out there and [I’m like], ‘let’s go.’ I know the need is great, and if it’s one little thing to do to help out, I’ll do it.”
The CROP Walk, an acronym that stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty, takes place in different counties throughout the country. Walk donors may designate gifts to other approved international hunger-fighting agencies, a specialty no other charity offers, Fogle said.
Fogle said 25 percent of the money goes to the local community and the rest goes to worldwide global issues.
Participants had the option of walking the one-mile or four-mile route through Howard Park and downtown South Bend, Fogle said.
Participants in the walk represent various religious affiliations, schools, and organizations in the area.  
Endorsed as a benefit in which neighbors, families, and even pets can walk together to take a stand against hunger and poverty in the world, the event’s interfaith component contributes to the idea and mission of “Ending Hunger One Step At A Time” as a community, Fogle said.
“It’s a fun event because it’s a nice time being out, the energy keeps coming, and all denominations [are included].  In the past we’ve had Christians, but we’ve also had [different faiths] and different organizations in the community,” Fogle said.  
This year marks the CROP Hunger Walk’s 66th nationwide anniversary and its 31st in St. Joseph County, Fogle said. She said she has been on the county recruiting committee since 2001.
Saint Mary’s Social Work Club President Natalie Stoerger and Vice President Corinna Martinez joined Fogle as Saint Mary’s representatives. Stoerger said participating resonated with the event’s motto, “We walk because they walk.”
“People do have to actually have to walk to get food and water,” she said. “I just think there’s a need to put yourself in someone else’s shoes [and] having that whole reflection through the walk and knowing that Saint Mary’s gave some money towards this good cause. It’s a really good volunteering program, and with Jayne [Fogle], we have a really good connection with her church and the community.”
The integration of the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame student bodies with the outside South Bend public is a significant factor of their participation in Sunday’s event, Stoerger said.
“What I want to come across to the students here at Saint Mary’s is that there’s a community outside of our bubble of Notre Dame, Indiana,” she said. “I think we get so wrapped up in everything that’s happening here which is wonderful, but there’s also lots of different opportunities, cultures, and lots of other people outside in South Bend.”
Stoerger said she hopes the College’s involvement with the walk will continue and she encourages all students to give of themselves and become active members in their environment.  
“If Saint Mary’s can get more involved with the community, it will help out the community grow in a better way,” she said. “There is a stigma out in South Bend of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s; we’re put on a pedestal. It’s true, but it saddens me because I feel we don’t do enough for the community. I feel there’s a dividing line where we’re at. I even hear from community members [that they] feel there’s not a lot of involvement and not a lot of people caring, which is sad, but somehow that’s still shadowed by the stigma of the colleges.”
She said college provides the perfect environment to try getting involved with new and different things.
“Some time in your life you have to step out of your comfort zone, and why not do it when you’re in college?” Stoerger said. “When you’re out in South Bend, you find out that people are just people, but when you really take the time to get to know someone, you realize that we’re not that different.”
CROP Hunger Walk donations will continue to be collected through the online database, www.crophungerwalk.orgsouthbendin, through Oct. 11.