by Freddy S. Zalta
In many of Harry's songs, he wrote and sang about hopes gone wrong, love left untended; dreams flying past us and victims of time. All these years later, perhaps too often, his songs continue to reflect the realities of our missed opportunities. But sometimes, people seize the moment and act to make a difference before it's too late.
For the past 24 years, "The Harry Chapin Memorial Run Against Hunger," a community effort in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, has raised awareness and thousands of dollars to combat world hunger. Hundreds of youngsters, adults and seniors run together to make a difference.
This year, on October 17th, the 10K (6.2 mile) course takes a scenic route through Croton Gorge Park, in the shadow of the historic Croton Dam. The one-mile "fun run" starts at 12 noon and the 10K race begins at 12:30 p.m.
Since its inception, the event has raised money for World Hunger Year and relief groups in Bolivia, Togo, Guatemala, Philippines, Belize, Peru, Burundi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Zaire.
All donations are handled by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which absorbs all organizational costs. That means all the money raised goes directly to the groups in need.
The success of this run is literally contingent upon the dedication and hard work of hundreds of volunteers and supporters.
One of those supporters is Robin Cooke, the Physical Education Teacher at the Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School and the volleyball coach at Croton High School. Cooke has been encouraging and coordinating her students' involvement in this event for the past eight years.
"We have around 800 students in the elementary school and more than half of them run in this event," she said.
With every child there are usually parents and siblings who run along, she noted. So the run becomes a family event, which dominoes into a community event.
"The feeling I get when I see all of the community involved is overwhelming," she said. "I stress to the children that each one of them can make a difference."
Cooke also gets the older students to support the run as well.
"The volleyball players all get involved by setting up stations and helping with every aspect of the event." She says.
the others hope that teaching the children to get involved will empower
them to stay involved, knowing that eradicating hunger is going to be
a long-term challenge. She hopes other school administrators will do the
Watch for the Next Issue of Circle! on December 7