As a young girl growing up in Chicago, Cindy Kueter became involved in CROP Hunger Walks after witnessing the effects of poverty in the city.
Now a member of the Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Barrington, she says hunger is just as prevalent an issue among families and children the suburbs -- but it's not always obvious.
CROP Hunger Walks throughout the suburbsOct. 1• Crystal Lake: McHenry County CROP Walk, 1 p.m., Crystal Lake Food Pantry, 42 East St.; crophungerwalk.org/mchenrycounty
• Elmhurst: 2 p.m. (registration 1:30 p.m.), Elmhurst College, 190 S. Prospect Ave.; crophungerwalk.org/elmhurstil
• Hampshire: Burlington/Hampshire CROP Walk, 1:30 p.m. (registration 1 p.m.), First United Methodist Church, 207 E. Grove, Hampshire; crophungerwalk.org/burlingtonil
• Palatine: Northwest Community CROP Walk, 1 p.m. (registration noon), Christ Lutheran Church, 41 S. Rohlwing Road; crophungerwalk.org/arlingtonhtsil
Oct. 14St. Charles: Tri-Cities CROP Walk, 8:50 a.m. (registration 8 a.m.), Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 1145 N. Fifth Ave. (Route 25); crophungerwalk.org/saintcharlesil
Oct. 15• Algonquin: CARDUNAL CROP Walk, 1:30 p.m. (registration 12:45 p.m.), Congregational Church of Algonquin, 713 Washington St.; crophungerwalk.org/cardunal
• Barrington: Barrington Area CROP Walk, 1 p.m. (registration 12:30 p.m.), Lutheran Church of the Atonement, 909 E. Main St.; crophungerwalk.org/barringtonil
• Downers Grove: South DuPage CROP Walk, 2 p.m. (registration 1:30 p.m.), Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 4501 Main St.; www.dgfumc.org/cropwalk
• Elgin: 2 p.m. (registration 1 p.m.), Robert Gillam Municipal Complex, Civic Center Plaza, off Douglas Avenue; crophungerwalk.org/elginil
• Lombard: Great Prairie Trail CROP Walk, 1:30 p.m. (registration 1 p.m.), Lombard Common, St. Charles and Grace streets; crophungerwalk.org/lombardil
• Naperville: Naperville Area CROP Walk, 1:15 p.m. (registration 12:30 p.m.), Grace United Methodist Church, 300 E. Gartner Road; crophungerwalk.org/napervilleil
• Northbrook: Glenbrook CROP Walk, 1 p.m. (registration 12:30 p.m.), St. Giles Episcopal Church, 3025 Walters Ave.; crophungerwalk.org/northbrookil
• Waukegan: Northern Lake County CROP Walk, 12:30 p.m. (registration noon), St. Anastasia Church, 629 W. Glen Flora Ave.; crophungerwalk.org/waukeganil
• West Chicago: Northwest DuPage United CROP Walk, 2 p.m. (1:30 p.m. registration), St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 155 N. Prince Crossing Road; crophungerwalk.org/northwestdupageil
Nov. 5Antioch: 12:30 p.m., UMC of Antioch, 848 Main St.; crophungerwalk.org/antiochil
"We're in Barrington, and we feel that it's a fairly affluent community," Kueter said. "But you'd be surprised by how many people don't have food or the means to buy what they need for their families."
Nearly 200 participants will walk five miles throughout the community Oct. 15 to raise money and awareness for the fight against hunger, said Kueter, organizer of the 35th annual Barrington Area CROP Walk. The event is one of about 1,000 walks held each year nationwide.
Though sponsored by global nonprofit Church World Service, each CROP Hunger Walk is organized by a planning committee at the local level, said Jon Skogen, senior community engagement specialist.
That group chooses the date, the fundraising goal, the walking route and the local organizations -- such as food pantries or homeless shelters -- to which 25 percent of the proceeds will be distributed.
The other 75 percent goes to CWS, which provides development work, education, food security and disaster relief to about 30 different countries, Skogen said.
For example, he said, the organization teaches young mothers about childhood nutrition, trains farmers on sustainable agriculture practices and builds latrines so waste doesn't contaminate rivers and land.
Additionally, Skogen said, CWS has been sending cleanup buckets and hygiene kits to areas affected by the recent hurricanes, such as Texas, Florida and Haiti.
"There are hungry people everywhere, and just to look at somebody, you don't know that," Skogen said. "What a lot of CROP Hunger Walks can do is ease up on the need that people have to spend all their money on food so they can get the rest of their life in order."
Throughout her eight years of being involved in the CARDUNAL CROP Walk, organizer Kim Aupperle said she has been amazed at the number of people whose lives have been changed by the money raised and services provided through the events.
This year's CARDUNAL Walk, which includes the Carpentersville, Dundee and Algonquin areas, is also scheduled for Oct. 15 and gives participants the option of walking one, three or six miles.
A portion of the proceeds will go to FISH Food Pantry, the PADS homeless shelter and the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Interfaith Food Pantry.
"I realized how easy it was for me to join a wonderful ministry and walk to end hunger in my own local community, and also worldwide," Aupperle said.
Roughly 35 events held each year in northern Illinois raise about $800,000 annually, Skogen said. CROP Walks raise about $10 million each year throughout the country.
Some local planning committees take their hunger relief efforts a step further by offering additional resources, such as financial wellness planning and tax preparation, Skogen said.
At the Naperville Area CROP Walk, participants not only walk to raise money, but they also return to the host church's fellowship hall to pack bags of food, organizer Lynn Pries said.
Those dinner bags are then distributed to families at Loaves & Fishes Community Services.
"I'm constantly amazed at the commitment of local committees who, year after year, do this because that's what they feel called to do," Skogen said. "I think, in all of it, what we're trying to do is just look at justice for everybody and making sure that people's basic needs are met."