Churches, community rally to feed hungry children around the world

Sunday, January 6, 2013
Lindsey Hale and her daughter, MaeLee Hale, work on the MannaPack Rice line at the Osage Centre.

As I experienced Christmas recently, I couldn't help but marvel at the craziness around us that is technology. It's absurd and at the same time completely amazing.

As we drove to visit family, my son was watching a movie in the car while also playing on the latest, greatest gaming device that makes my old Atari look like an antique. Meanwhile, I was jamming to my favorite 80s songs from my Spotify playlist, playing through my car stereo via a Bluetooth connection to my iPhone. Upon arrival, we Skyped with my brother-in-law, who is currently in Afghanistan, talking to him and seeing him on an iPad as if he were just sitting in the room with us.

Yet, as all of this is taking place, I found myself thinking that somewhere on the other side of the globe nearly 1 billion people are going to bed hungry.

How is this possible?

How can we have the technology, the innovation and the creativity to be able to provide 3G and 4G service, making the Internet available virtually worldwide, yet we are not able to figure out how to provide food and clean drinking water to people dying just across the ocean?

Steve Fritzler adds soy nuggets and rice to a MannaPack Rice meal.

I think if we actually sit and think about the millions of people without clean drinking water or food, it is overwhelming. What difference can we make?

Unfortunately, by ourselves the answer is not much. But with a group of individuals working together and partnering resources we can be a big difference. That's why La Croix Church began its relationship with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) several years ago.

FMSC is a not-for-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God's children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals that have been specifically formulated for malnourished children, and FMSC ships the meals to nearly 70 countries around the world.

They've perfected this process to the point where they offer MobilePack events. That's where Cape Girardeau comes into play. FMSC provided the expertise, the supplies and the connections to those in need. La Croix Church committed to renting a facility where the packing could take place, purchasing the supplies and food, and providing the volunteers to pack meals over

the two-day event.

John Caldwell, left, and Tim McClard scoop rice to fill the bins for the packing lines.

La Croix's fifth MobilePack event took place December 10-11 at the Osage Centre. Although La Croix took responsibility for recruiting the volunteers, this was a community event. Groups of volunteers came from schools, businesses, families, athletic teams at Southeast Missouri State University, and, of course, many churches in town, including La Croix.

In two short days, this community packed 520,992 meals, enough to feed 1,427 children for an entire year. A total of 2,618 volunteers showed up to give of their time.

Two short weeks later, the people of La Croix also gave of their finances. A Christmas Eve offering was received. This is not your typical offering but one that 100 percent of the collection goes to funding the FMSC MobilePack (costs of food packed: $116,380), to dig wells in Mozambique, and to support a feeding program in Zambia, Africa.

As this event continues to grow over the years, who knows what we can accomplish as a community of faith. Perhaps someday this community will be filled with such compassion for the poor and hungry that FMSC will build a permanent packing site right here.

In the meantime, I know that God is smiling, as he watches our hearts grow for those less fortunate and he watches 1,427 more of his precious children go to bed tonight with a full tummy.

Angel Hillman is the director of communications for La Croix Church in Cape Girardeau.

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