I Am Only One Person....What Can I Do to Change the World?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Have you ever thought about how you might contribute something to the greater good?  There's so much need in the world today, in our own towns, in areas of the country that have suffered natural disasters and so much in other countries.  Sometimes I think there's so much need that we think to ourselves, 'What can I possibly do that will have an impact?  Certainly with my limited income and busy schedule there's nothing significant for me to do or give.'  Many of us find it easier to write a check than to give of our time, but even then we wonder if our small, or even generous, contribution is really making a difference.  Any of this sound familiar?

 I might be in the minority but I'm not big on 'group participation'.  Growing up as an only child, I confess I'm somewhat of a loner, not really comfortable in crowds, surrounded by people I don't know.  Consequently I haven't volunteered much in my adult life and until Sunday I was pretty ok with that.  But Sunday changed my thinking and made me realize that even a small amount of time when combined with a group of volunteers CAN make a difference, a huge difference....thanks to an organization called Rise Against Hunger.
Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world's most vulnerable countries.  Their goal is to end hunger by 2030.  Did you know that 815 million people are impacted by hunger.  Asia has the largest number of hungry people with 2/3's of the population affected.  Yesterday, my family and I took part in a meal packing event at my church, Shenendehowa United Methodist Church.  The statistics of the day will blow you away!
Our goal going into this endeavor was to raise enough money to package 10,000 meals and to get at least 60 volunteers to participate in the packing event. The youth and children of SUMC have been raising money for the last few years in order to make this even happen.  And happen it did! Over 100 volunteers signed up to participate.  At least 30 volunteers had to be turned away simply due to lack of space.  These volunteers worked tirelessly for about 2 1/2 hours, measuring ingredients, labeling bags, filling bags, sealing bags, packing boxes.  They also worked to unload and reload the tractor trailer and clean up. Each packaged meal costs 29 cents.  Each bag provided one meal containing rice, soy,  dehydrated vegetables and a vitamin packet.  Once each bag was weighed and sealed, they were packed into boxes ready to be delivered to hungry people in one of the many places served by this organization.

My hubby in the plaid shirt (l) pouring rice.
 The first step in packaging meals was to affix an expiration label to each bag.  That was my primary job along with a table full of other volunteers.
 The bags were then moved to tables where they were held under the funnel and a cup of rice, a cup of soy, a scoop of vegetables and a packet of vitamins were added. 
Team work

Ann Marie holds a bag under the funnel.

Brother Paul (left) making the rounds adding lightness and laughter.

100 strong coming together to feed the hungry
 Children under 13 then carried boxes of filled bags to the next bank of tables where they were weighed.  If a bag measured too light, rice was added; too heavy...rice was removed.  Once the bag was the precise weight, another volunteer sealed the bag shut and the bag was then passed to the next table where it was packed by our box packers.
Notice boxes of bags waiting to be weighed .

Weighing and Sealing

Even our packers were lucky enough to don these fashionable bonnets ;)

Pastor Lee....always working alongside his congregation.
Even the youngsters loved it!  My Elena with the pink shirt carrying bags to be sealed.

Stephanie Hutchins(l), Ashley, Ann Marie

This amazing group filled and packed 20,088 meals.  That's correct....100 volunteers packed twenty thousand eighty eight meals in just over 2 hours.  Now tell me that doesn't make a huge impact!!  As you can imagine, this large-scale project took planning and organization.  Stephanie Hutchins, our Christian Education and Youth Coordinator, spearheaded the project.   What was so impressive was how organized the entire set up was, thanks to Rise Against Hunger and all those who've preceded our church in taking part in feeding the hungry.  Rise Against Hunger has made a huge impact on hunger.  To date they and their volunteers have packaged 375,559,406 meals.  In 2016 they served 1,040,351 people in 74 countries. Would you imagine that in just two hours so many people's lives could be affected?  I know I didn't.  I also didn't imagine how much fun it could be.  Dave, our liaison from Rise Against Hunger, kept things moving smoothly.  He encouraged us, guided us, thanked us over and over and kept the room hoppin' and boppin' to the party music that filled the room while we worked like a well-oiled machine carrying out and surpassing our mission.
If you're part of a church, school, civic organization consider hosting a meal packaging event.  I promise you won't be sorry.  For more information on hosting an event or donating, here is the link to the Rise Against Hunger website: http://www.riseagainsthunger.org/   To see more photos of the event in the Daily Gazette: https://dailygazette.com/galleries/2018/01/28/rise-against-hunger-meal-packing-event   You might be surprised to learn I didn't bring my camera.  I didn't want to be distracted from my assigned task so I'd like to thank Ann Marie Latham and Michele Carlson for allowing me to use their photos here today.  I hope they serve to show what preparing 20,088 meals looks like.  What you can't see is how incredibly proud we were to be a part of all this.  This event, the people who showed up on a Sunday afternoon to work together to help others, a pastor who inspires and leads in a way that encourages his congregation to do their part to 'Connect People to Christ and Community'......this is what Shenendehowa United Methodist Church is all about.  Just as no one visitor or member ever feels insignificant at SUMC.....no act of kindness or connection is ever insignificant or irrelevant to those on the receiving end of it.  You can make a difference whether it's to one person or to 20,000.  Do it today!   More information following this photo!!

For more information about Shenendehowa United Methodist Church, check out their website at: http://www.shenumc.org/ or their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Shenendehowa-United-Methodist-Church If you're looking for a church where you can feel at home and welcome, regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey, consider visiting SUMC. Services are Sundays at 9:00 and 10:45am.   Thanks for reading!  Come back soon to Life As I See It.  To subscribe: Click here to SUBSCRIBE

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