It has been at least a decade, if not longer, that I’ve handled occasional stories about a Christian organization called Feed My Starving Children.
Between the organization’s own announcements and news releases from groups that have helped further its mission, I’ve always been impressed not only by the zeal of FMSC but by its seeming efficiency.
Last week, I experienced both firsthand.
I felt like I was part of a Swiss watch.
Joining my colleagues from Times Media Group, publishers of AFN and about 20 other community newspapers and magazines, I learned why so many individuals and organizations – from scout troops to church groups – so enthusiastically embrace FMSC.
It’s not only because Feed My Starving Children for 30 years has been fixed on one goal: easing the hunger that afflicts untold millions of kids around the world. It needs people to physically help do it.
FMSC has perfected a recipe of four high-protein ingredients that volunteers assemble into life-saving bags. Volunteers measure the ingredients for each bag, seal the bags, pack the bags in boxes and tape up and stack the boxes on pallets that end up in dozens of poverty-stricken countries around the world.
Located in a small, empty shopping center across from Fiesta Mall in Mesa, FMSC’s packing center for the East Valley has a “kitchen” that probably is cleaner than many Valley restaurants’. Its approach to handling those bags of life certainly seem a lot more sterile than the food-handling techniques I’ve seen in others.
Donning hairnets and latex gloves and guided crisply by the directions of a tiny staff, dozens of volunteers form mini-assembly lines that engender a camaraderie and proficiency that become a marvel to behold – and even more marvelous to be a part of.
Before and after a packing session, you not only get schooled in the suffering that you are joining FMSC to help alleviate. You also get to check out and buy crafts and products from the countries you are helping – coffee from Nicaragua and Haiti, bracelets from Uganda, beaded toys from Swaziland, to name just a few.
Volunteers also get an introduction to the vast global network through which FMSC distributes those bags of life and the other ways it helps rescue at least some of the suffering little ones.
During a brief video following our 90-minute packing stint, we heard the story of a 4-year-old Haitian boy whose mother could not care for him while tending to his three siblings. He had rickets and couldn’t walk. So, day after day, she just left him sitting outside in the mud, under the hot sun with no one to even talk to, let alone play with.
He came to the attention of FMSC volunteers, who took him to a doctor. The doctors didn’t think he would make it, had all but given him up for the grave.
Flash forward two years. The boy was in a classroom, writing on a blackboard, running around and looking healthy.
After watching that video, I thought about the little boys and girls in dirt-poor regions of the globe who can’t run to the fridge for a glass of milk, sit down at breakfast to a bowl of Cheerios or run over to a cupboard for a snack.
I thought about how our company took two hours of its time away from covering news and serving advertisers to join the finely tuned watch that is Feed My Starving Children to show those kids a little love – indeed, give them life.
I wondered what would happen if every business in Ahwatukee, the East Valley, the Phoenix metro region organized its employees into groups that could head over to Mesa and spend two hours packing bags of food.
For a mere two hours, business owners, supervisors and employees could join the countless church groups, civic organizations and individuals who have done the same thing and help the millions of children among the estimated 161 million people in the world who are starving every day.
We were told that by the end of our shift, we helped feed 69 children for a year.
Seemed to me like a heartbreakingly tiny fraction of the need out there.
Maybe it’s time that you head over to fmsc.org and sign up.