Hundreds came out to the State College Alliance Church on Friday and Saturday to give their time to feed children across the world.
From 6-8 p.m., the first night and at various times on the second day, volunteers packed vitamins, vegetables, soy and rice into packages that will be shipped off to over 70 different countries.
Dozens of hairnetted heads filed into the room of the church. One of them was Aden Wertz, an associate pastor of outreach at the church, who said he's “excited to have it back again this year” despite having to “take a couple years off [from holding the event] because of COVID.”
This is the third time Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit organization, set up their packing facility in the converted gymnasium connected to the church, Wertz said.
Wertz said his job is “connecting people within the church to outreach opportunities within the community, whether it’s serving as a volunteer — or like this event — bringing events to the church that people can get involved with.”
He said he believes Feed My Starving Children is a good opportunity for people in the community to help others.
“[Feed My Starving Children’s] heart is to feed children around the world, and the way they do that is by bringing volunteers to the United States to get involved in the packing of it,” Wertz said. “We’re packing the meals tonight and then those meals will get shipped to partners that they work with all around the world.”
Brian Yeich is a development adviser for Feed My Starving Children, and said he believes “food is the foundation of giving these kids hope.”
“The statistics are that one in nine people, really, go to bed hungry each night, and we’re focusing on trying to make sure that children around the world can get adequate food —at least one good meal a day,” he said. “We have 70 countries that we’re shipping food to, and over 200 partners that [have] feet on the ground.”
Yeich described his job as finding “hosts that are interested in holding a packing event, and then facilitating that process of helping them understand how it is that the project would work.”
He said the organization has to “do a lot of preparation ahead of time.”
“We have to make sure the venue is appropriate, that there’s enough space inside, that there’s sufficient tables and that we can bring our pallets into the building," Yeich said. "Some older buildings are challenged that way.”
Heather Hecht is the development director for MobilePack at Feed My Starving Children. She said the mission of the organization is to feed children in “body and spirit.”
“I work with a team that works with MobilePack hosts around the country, and so we work with churches, businesses and schools to help put on these events,” Hecht said. “We talk to them about what it takes to host a MobilePack event, how to do fundraising, how to promote your MobilePack, get your volunteers, and then our operations team comes in and takes over from there.”
After the initial ceremony, in which Hecht gave brief instructions about hand washing etiquette and an explanation for what goes into the packs of food in what order, the volunteers put on gloves and began to fill the boxes. Routine cheers signaled yet another successful box-filling.
Adam Nickels said he came out because he supports the cause.
“I belong to another church here in town, I’m friends with some members of the church here, and they were telling me that this was going on on a Friday,” Nickels said. “It sounded like a good thing to help out with.”
Bob Whitaker volunteered on Friday because he said he's “concerned about food supply and young children going to bed with an empty stomach.”
“That affects them, and it’s hard to be optimistic about life when your stomach is empty, so this is just a part of trying to fulfill that deed," Whitaker said. "I appreciate the opportunity to serve."