The other afternoon I listened to a radio interview with leaders and members of various U.S. churches. The interviewer wanted to know if people were giving less to churches and church food programs during these difficult economic times. The answer repeated around the country was, “No, giving levels are steady.” Cutting back on taking care of people in their community is not happening. When asked if the giving to soup kitchens and food pantries would likely decrease as times worsened, pastors replied that, to the contrary, hard times brought people together. We Americans look after each other. Our history verifies this. When soup lines grow longer, more people show up to cook and serve more soup.

This spirit of giving was evident this past Sunday in the Church World Services’ sponsored CROP Walk held in Madison, Wisconsin. Hundreds of people gathered at Covenant Presbyterian Church and walked 3.5 miles to raise money for local food banks and international hunger relief organizations. My children and I participated, but chose the shorter 1.5 mile route. People who wanted to raise money for food but couldn’t walk sat in rocking chairs in the church and “rocked for hunger”.

The atmosphere inside and out was one of camaraderie and fun. We were all happy to help in this small way and so glad that others were helping too. Our walk through Madison’s Tenney Park along Lake Mendota was gorgeous and a warm breeze blew through brightly colored, sunlit autumn trees. Upon our return we received the gifts of baked goods, fruit, juice, and bottled water donated and distributed by folks in other local organizations who wanted to help too. A band played music for us as we sat on the grass, resting and eating our treats.

But this snacking and walking followed the real efforts of raising the hunger-relief money by asking friends, neighbors and family to donate. The previous day, Lauren (9), Dave (5) and I rang neighbors’ doorbells, described the CROP Walk, and collected donations. Nearly every door that opened, also opened a checkbook. Rather than with economizing hesitation, people gave to our cause with approving encouragement.

None-the-less, it’s uncomfortable asking for money. There’s always the embarrassment of not having enough money oneself to meet the need. But the need of the world’s hungry is too great for individuals to address singly. We need each other. And so we come together.

To show our gratitude for the donations we collected, Lauren and Dave and I gave out homemade sugar cookies we had baked that morning. We made them in Halloween shapes and sprinkled them with coarse sugar and cinnamon. I used Helen Myhre’s recipe from her Norske Nook Cookbook. Helen’s delicious baked goods are a Wisconsin treasure. Farm-woman turned restaurant-owner and author, Helen has made her Norske Nook restaurant in Osseo, Wisconsin the place to go for cakes, pies, and treats. Helen’s sugar cookies are simple to make, and great to eat. Click on “Continue reading…” for Helen’s easy recipe.

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