Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye are two people who I never thought I would encounter while sitting in an Ahwatukee church.
Their soulful songs, preaching love and kindness, perfectly underscored the 30-Hour Famine event that started last Friday night at Desert Foothills United Methodist Church.
Established by World Vision, the 30-Hour Famine is an annual occasion that allows people to raise both money and awareness for world hunger while fasting for 30 hours.
The youth of Desert Foothills and other churches in the community raised money from sponsors such as friends, family, and neighbors in hopes of acquiring the funds to feed at least five children for an entire year.
"I think it's a good experience to learn about the poverty in other areas because you don't really think about it in your daily life," Emalynn Johnson, 16, said. "You have what you have and that's it."
Johnson, along with 25 to 30 other youth, was an active participant in the annual "Hunger Dinner" that kicked off Friday evening.
The Hunger Dinner randomly divided participants into assorted class ranks as soon as they walked in the door. The "low class" participants were forced to sit on the floor with very little to eat, while the "upper class" was served spaghetti at a separate table complete with a black tablecloth.
Following the Hunger Dinner, participants built shelters out of cardboard boxes to sleep in outside. Upon waking Saturday, they participated in service projects throughout the community until the fast was over.
Jamie Willey, an event leader who has been participating now for 11 years, had nothing but glowing accolades for the youth involved.
"They're an amazing group," Willey said. "They really planned and put together the event, and they keep wanting to do more and more to make a difference in kids' lives around the world."
When asked what she believes a realistic solution to world hunger may be, Willey emphasized that it is the little adjustments that make a difference.
"I think it comes down to a lot of people making small changes in their own life, and working towards change," Willey said. "If you haven't tried 30-Hour Famine, you should try it."
Bryce Meade, a 16-year-old high school sophomore and active member of the Desert Foothills youth group, agreed that aid should be extended beyond events like the Famine.
"That's a very difficult question," Meade said. "I believe that more effort needs to be created to help create local farms in other countries so that continuous production of food can be done rather than a one-time, simple solution."
Even after only seven hours of fasting, Meade knew exactly what he wanted to eat as soon as the 30 hours were up.
"The first thing is definitely my dad's breakfast burrito," Meade said. "That is going to be the best."
To learn more, visit www.desertfoothills.org or call (480) 460-1025.
For more information about the 30-Hour Famine project and World Vision, visit www.worldvision.org or call (888) 511-6443.
Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.