The stomachs of more than 1,300 starving children across the world will be full for a year thanks to volunteers who packed more than 500,000 meals for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) at Mountain View Lutheran Church (MVLC) in Ahwatukee Foothills between Nov. 17 and 20.
Beth Brown, a volunteer packer for the event, said, "I think it's good because you're actually doing something; you're not just writing a check ... you can actually see the difference you're making."
Brown was among 2,155 volunteers from the community to participate. FMSC is a non-profit Christian organization based in Coon Rapids, Minn., that sends meals to children in third-world countries, including Haiti and El Salvador. According to FMSC more than 400,000 volunteers assembled 96 million meals in 2009.
Ladd Sonnenberg, intern pastor at MVLC said, "While feeding hungry children we also share Christ's love, and give them a second chance."
Sonnenberg said volunteers worked in two-hour shifts to fill "Manna-packs" consisting of soy, dried vegetables, rice and chicken. According to FMSC, the meals are "scientifically fortified to meet the needs of a child suffering from starvation."
After volunteers worked in teams of 12 during each two-hour shift, they watched a video produced by FMSC, and had the opportunity to sample the food they helped pack. According to Sonnenberg, the atmosphere was an enthusiastic one.
"People would talk and sing, and there were friendly challenges between the groups," he said. "Pastor Ladd had the microphone, and was challenging us ... inspiring everybody to work faster. At the end there was a tally to see how many meals were packed by each group."
They totaled enough meals to feed 106 children for a year.
Before the "MobilePack" took place MLVC made a commitment to pack 500,000 meals and to raise $85,000. The church community is grateful they reached the goal for the number of meals packed. However, Sonnenberg said they're still raising funds to pay for food materials.
"We are going to continue to raise money; for example, during our Thanksgiving service, half of the offering went to Feed My Starving Children," Sonnenberg said.
The church will contact people who registered to volunteer but did not make it to the event, to give them another opportunity to help FMSC.
The pastor also said that Christmas ornaments can be purchased from FMSC, and depending on the ornament, buyers can see how many meals they are providing for starving children.
FMSC currently has a temporary location in Tempe on Priest Drive. Visit www.fmsc.com for more information about the organization. To make a donation toward MVLC's MobilePack, visit http://www.fmsc.org/Page.aspx?pid=409 and donate to event number 1011-68.
Michael Skarsten is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.