WINONA LAKE — Local volunteers swarmed all over the expansive Gordon Recreation Center on the Grace College campus this week to pack care packages for starving children in Africa and thousands of Warsaw Community Schools students donned hair nets and joined the fray.
“I wanted to do this so I could help starving children in Africa because I know they only have a little bit of food and they’re starving,” said Deacon Schuh, 10, a fifth-grader at Lincoln Elementary School. “Us doing this will help them a lot and give them a lot of food to eat.”
Schuh’s classmate, Brayden Smith, 10, also a Lincoln Elementary fifth grader, agreed.
“Same as Deacon, I would like to help people instead of just helping myself and being selfish.”
Schuh and Smith were among thousands of local school children who participated in a packing event coordinated by Warsaw MobilePack as part of a food outreach from Feed My Starving Children.
“We invited Warsaw Community Schools to partner with us on this event and (Superintendent) Dr. (David) Hoffert and the principals and teachers chose for the students to participate, because they felt that it was an opportunity for them to embrace the school mission statement of enriching the lives of others,” said Megan Stone, chairperson for the 2018 Warsaw MobilePack. “Our hope was that it would build global awareness and empathy and strengthen our own community in the process.”
The event began in 2014 and was held each year except 2017. In 2016, the program provided enough meals to feed 2,939 children for a year. Currently, volunteers are close to a pace to match or exceed that number. On Friday morning, Oct. 19, more than 400 students from Lincoln Elementary School, Edgewood Middle School and Gateway Education Center packed 259 boxes, called MannaPacks, enough for 55,944 meals. Coordinators estimated the haul would feed approximately 153 children for a year. Stone said there would be four more packing events, including one with 400 employees of Zimmer Biomet and three events of community volunteers. Prior to these events, the number of children fed for a year stood at 1,825.
Stone said the benefits for local students participating was extremely palpable.
“We also provided opportunities for them to have some front-end learning experiences, like we showed them videos of what this is all about, so they were aware of what they were participating in and who they were impacting,” she said. “I also think it’s a tangible service project. We have 5,500 volunteers in all participating. So, for this sized community, that’s a pretty significant number of volunteers and people come eagerly and they’re excited to participate because it’s such a hands-on experience of sharing their blessings, their time, talent and treasures — it’s a perfect combination.”