Area chuches, Wayne County Reads partnership with Stop Hunger Now
By Gary Popp
Published in News on February 13, 2011 1:50 AM
News-Argus/MICHAEL K. DAKOTA
Charlotte Campbell fills food packets in a pile before they are packed into boxes to be shipped. Several dozen volunteers filled the Wayne County Arts Council building to package the the food for Stop Hunger Now.
Janette Thode went to fellow members of St. Francis Episcopal Church because she wanted to do a project to make a difference in the lives of starving children.
Some of those church members happened to be affiliated with Wayne County Reads 2011. And this year, the reading program is based on two books that focus on improving the lives of people in Afghanistan.
And so, a partnership was born.
Together, the church and the reading program enlisted the services of Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization.
And Saturday at the Arts Council of Wayne County, volunteers packed more than 16,000 meals and put them into boxes to be delivered to an orphanage network in Nicargua on April 1.
More than 100 volunteers from area chuches and other organizations showed up to take part in the hands-on effort.
And Mrs. Thode was able to see her dream of helping children in far away places come true.
"To be able to do this type of tangible work is very rewarding. You can actually see bags being filled and boxes being packed. And, you know it makes a big difference," she said.
She added the volunteers' goal is similar to the one depicted in "Three Cups of Tea," by Greg Mortenson, one of two Wayne County Reads selections.
Mortensen's dream was to provide children in Afghanistan the essentials so they could recieve an education and evetually help themselves out of poverty.
Mrs. Thode understands his mission.
"If people, especially children, can get a good meal, then they can learn in school, stay in school and continue on," she said.
Mrs. Thode said not only do hungry children in foreign lands benefit through the program, so, too, did the children who helped at the food packaging event.
"It teaches the younger generation," she said. "We just came out of Christmas, and it shows that it's not all about us. It is beginning to give back a little."
Nearly $4,000 was raised to pay for the goods and services to host the event, which Stop Hunger Now organizes, making it possible to get the right food to those who need it, Mrs. Thode said.
Chris Singleton of Kinston is the eastern North Carolina coordinator of Stop Hunger Now.
Singleton has been a minister all his adult life and has done short-term mission trips, but only recently started working with Stop Hunger Now in September 2010.
"I have a growing compassion to help people with physical needs as well as spirtual needs, and I feel like this is something people could do without visiting other countries," Singleton said.
Singleton said he was inspired to extend his ministry work overseas seveal years ago after reading "Three Cups of Tea."
By participating in Saturday's event, Singleton he said he is helping others who were inspired by the book to do their part.
"I am used to the Lord opening up doors in strange ways, and I really feel this is part or that journey he has led me on," Singleton said.
Singleton said volunteers at Saturday's event packaged 1,550 pounds of long-grain rice, 750 pounds of textured vegetable protein and 80 pounds of dehydrated vegetable blend.
The assembly line was made up of volunteers lined shoulder-to-shoulder on both sides of serveral long rows of tables. On the tables there were buckets of the rice, dried vegtables and protein subtances. The volunteers used plastic scoops to pour the items into a large funnel with a plastic bag underneath held by another volunteer. Once another container was filled with food bags, a volunteer would yell "Runner" and one of the young volunteers would hurry over to take the container of open bags to another table where volunteers measured the quantity. When the correct quantity was confirmed, the bag would go to another station where the bags were heat-sealed. The bags were then put into boxes that were then loaded into a large truck destined for Singleton's warehouse in Kinston.
The volunteers included a several area churches, members of the military, the International Students Club at Wayne Community College and two Girl Scouts troops.
Letty Davenport, 16, was on of 11 junior ROTC members from Eastern Wayne High who got up early to help with the effort.
"I am glad I didn't sleep in," she said. "I like the fact that there will be many children who will recieve a meal. A lot of the times those of us who have a lot take it for granted. I can't fathom how happy some people will be just for a meal."
Another junior ROTC member, Joseph Henry, 16, was busy working in the final phase of the operation where he put the finished packages in cardboard boxes for warehouse storage and shipping.
Each time another 1,000 bags would be boxed, Henry would make a mark on a sheet of paper then vigorously shake a tamborine. When the rest of the volunteers heard the tambourine, the entire room would make a collective cheer.
"This is fun. I would like to do it next year. It is exciting," Joseph said.
Katherine Phinizy, of Goldsboro, brought four of her grandchildren to the event.
"I am here to help people and to be with my church," Mrs. Phinizy said. "And, I want my grandchildren to be involved."
Mrs. Phinizy said her grandchildren were eager to volunteer at the event.
"I am very proud that they wanted to help on a Saturday. They could have gone bike riding or fishing."
Mrs. Phinizy and her grandchildren worked efficently as one unit around a funnel.
Carrie Fesler, of Goldsboro, worked at the end of row of tables with a group of Girl Scouts.
Ms. Fesler said she was planning on just dropping her daugher off, but decided to stay because of the high energy level at the event.
"How could you not want to be here?," asked Ms. Felser as she looked around the room.
"It is heartwarming to see all these people come out today."
Aletta Taylor of the Philidelphia Community Church was at the event with her congregation's Women's Ministry.
"Everyone from our church has told me how happy they are that they came today," Mrs. Taylor said.
"We are used to having so much more than enough," Mrs. Taylor said. "A lot of the time we want to complain, but there are always people who are worse off. We are so blessed."
For Mrs. Taylor, having a diverse group of volunteers was inspiring.
"It is exciting to have so many people coming together to help," she said. "There are a lot of different people here, but everything is just flowing because we are all of the same mind to help others."
The two-hour long event left Mrs. Taylor wanting more.
"This is our first outreach program, but it won't be our last," she said. "People don't always have money to give, but we have the time, hands to work with, and the ablity to help. People may ask 'What kind of a differerence can you make in two hours?' And, I would say you can make a big difference."