Pray, Pack, Love
Small though it may be, DeWitt, Iowa, packs a lot of heart. At its center is St. Joseph Catholic School where a recent Feeding God’s Children event sparked a new energy in an already vibrant community. Principal Sharon Roling, Marquette 811, Dubuque, Iowa, helped students fundraise money to pack meals through Kids Against Hunger following school Mass one morning. “This was our fourth year doing this event… [we like the] students having hands-on experience,” Sharon said. “I hope this experience will inspire them to continue to practice the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in their daily lives.”
A representative from Kids Against Hunger presented after Mass, showing photos of starving children from the countries they serve. It was a powerful wake-up call to everyone, especially the students, to take a moment and recognize the accessibility they have to meals and nutritional food. Fundraising competitions and inter-personal challenges aside, the real purpose of the day was to bring the starving children’s fears and hunger to an end.
Taking shifts, every grade packed meals. Older students were paired with younger ones to assist them, and teachers stepped in, too. The gymnasium became a sea of bright yellow T-shirts, blue hairnets, and the sound of cowbells—once a meal was packed and placed in the bin, the students got to ring a cowbell to celebrate. Everyone moved with such efficiency there was hardly a time when you didn’t hear the cowbell’s distinctive ring. Starting at one end of the table, students measured the proper amount of food into plastic bags, passed the bags to other students who weighed them, and then sealed and packed them into boxes for safe shipping. It was like watching clockwork, bags passing from hand to hand with fluidity.
Box on box was stacked into the Kids Against Hunger truck. “Knowing that students will remember fundraising and packaging meals for children in third world countries” is what Sharon found most fulfilling about this event.
“[For me], Fraternal Outreach means Catholic Order of Foresters encouraging and providing opportunities for its members to live out the Catholic social teachings our Church asks of us,” Sharon explained. Having been a member her whole life, Sharon grew up seeing her dad involved with Catholic Order of Foresters activities and leadership opportunities. She described how this inspired her to become a Catholic leader as well, living out and passing on her faith. Her dad was even at the event, observing from the bleachers as she moved from table to table and teacher to teacher, ensuring everyone had what they needed.
Working with an organization like Kids Against Hunger is a great way to extend the reach of a Feeding God’s Children event. Kids Against Hunger was founded to achieve one goal: eradicate world hunger.1 Its approach involves using volunteers in decentralized locations, like St. Joseph School, to pack highly nutritious, vitamin-fortified meals that are easy to prepare. Each bag contains six meals, has a shelf-life of three years and provides proper nutrition to a malnourished individual.2
Throughout this event, the students packed 14,450 meals. This is the impact outreach can have: it knows no borders, unites people and sparks a desire to serve others.
Article by Alison Mink.