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Churches rally to end hunger

Churches in the Heart of Virginia that resolved to not let families in Haiti go hungry yielded nearly 20,000 meals donated and packaged during an Oct. 7 event.

Approximately 60 representatives from churches across the area took part in a Rise Against Hunger packaging event, where members pooled time and elbow grease to package meals to be sent to Haiti.

Event organizer Barbara Mason, with Appomattox PE Presbyterian Church in Prince Edward County, where the event was held, said packaging the meals took just the morning. She said participants arrived at 9 a.m., were set up to work at various stations at 9:30 a.m. and were finished by 11 a.m. Participants who stayed enjoyed a lunch provided by the church.

“Everybody got to fellowship and have a good time,” Mason said. “It’s a really awesome event.”

Mason said Rise Against Hunger, formerly called Stop Hunger Now, has an office in Lynchburg.

The organization donates food to areas around the world. Mason said that last year, representatives from Rise Against Hunger told her their donations were delivered to Zambia in South Africa. This year, Mason said officials cited the meals would be shipped to Haiti.

Mason said people were divided into various stations. She said participants in one station add seasoning packets while people at another station add the rice, and those at another station add protein flakes. People at the next station will weigh the packet, either adding or removing rice to have the packet meet the exact weight requirements.

Mason said each packet can feed six people and that 36 packets are placed into a box.

Volunteers donned plastic gloves and hairnets for the event.

Those who participated in the event included members and leaders at College Church at Hampden-Sydney, Farmville Presbyterian, Cumberland Presbyterian and Meherrin Presbyterian among others. 

Mason said the church also donated checks coming to approximately $1,500 for Rise Against Hunger officials to purchase water filters that can be used by families in Haiti.

The filters, Mason said, cost about $75 apiece and can last between 15 to 20 years and purify water that can be used for cooking.

The Rev. Dr. Tom Robinson of Farmville Presbyterian Church said he and his church were among several in the area that took part in the event. For those who are interested in holding similar events with Rise Against Hunger, he encouraged several churches to get involved, pooling resources to pay for the materials and pack the foods together.

He said the event was rewarding for he and other participants.

“There’s a lot of time and money and energy that’s expended on this, but it’s well worth it,” Robinson said about the organization and churches’ involvement. “It’s not going to solve the hunger issue, of course, but anything that we can do to help somebody to receive a decent meal, a good meal, a nutritious meal, is worth it.”