Salina — More than 1,070 volunteers gathered Jan. 20-21 to help pack meals for children around the globe as part of the Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event. Volunteers ranged from age five to 92 years of age, said coordinator Linda Ourada, a parishioner at St. Mary, Queen of the Universe in Salina. “I am grateful to all the volunteers who spent their time and efforts to make this a great success on Martin Luther King weekend ... the “Day of Service” ... to assemble the MannaPack meals,” Ourada said. “Starving children will live because of their effects.” Workers gathered in five shifts over two days to pack more than 225,500 meals. The meals will help feed 618 children for a full year. Megan Nobert, who is the director of religious education at St. John the Baptist Church in Clyde, said students attended the 2016 MobilePack in Salina and enjoyed the experience. “We couldn't wait to go back,” she said. “This was a great service project for our 9th/10th grade Confirmation candidates.” In all, almost 60 youth and adults from the parish attended the event on Jan. 21. “As a Confirmation class, we talk about community service and how to best use the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit,” Norbert said. “A day spent serving together is a powerful way to see the Holy Spirit in action. “It is often difficult to find an opportunity for parents to serve alongside their young children or locate an organization that can accommodate a large group project. FMSC allows us the chance to serve together, without much age or participation restrictions. An added bonus is the high-energy, face-paced environment. Everyone has a great time while reaching out to feed the hungry and serve in the spirit of Jesus.” In addition to assembling the meals, Norbert said students in religious education collected quarters from home, and donated $300 in advance of the event. In all, the event raised more than $57,000, which went toward the cost of the meals.
Other volunteers included Salina Mayor Dr. Trent Davis, Bishop Jerry Vincke and volunteers from a multitude of churches and towns.
“It was awesome that Bishop Vincke volunteered,” Ourada said. “Our community needs to see the involvement of our Catholic clergy as they show us the way, as shepherds of the Catholic faith. The bishop’s involvement showed leadership to the Catholic community and working with people all faiths.” She said volunteers came from Sylvan Grove, Lucas, Wilson, Minneapolis, Topeka, Russell, Bennington, Lindsborg, Assaria, Wakefield, Ellsworth, Solomon, Clyde and Wichita to participate in the event. MannaPack rice bags consist of dried soy protein powder, vitamins, dehydrated vegetables and fortified rice. The people receiving these meals place the ingredients in a large kettle of boiling water and cook for 20 minutes before eating. Each bag packed contains six meals. The Boxes of MannaPack rice bags are delivered in more than 70 countries around the world. Ourada said the meals will be delivered to Sierra Leone is in West Africa and Guatemala in South America.
This is the second MobilePack event hosted in Salina. The first was in 2016. The 2016 event brough together more than 1,000 volunteers who packed more than 186,000 meals. That event helped feed 511 children for one year. Additionally, two MobilePack events were hosted in Goodland: in 2015 and 2017. The 2015 event provided 114,000 meals and the 2017 event yielded 75,000 meals for children. While the main focus of the MobilePack event was to feed children worldwide, Ourada said volunteers were also invited to bring non-perishable food or toiletry item for local charities. Feed My Starving Children is a Christian nonprofit organization. Ourada said the ecumenical cooperation in planning the event was key to its success. Trinity United Methodist Church assisted with providing a location for volunteers to pack meals. Additionally, Ourada said a base of 24 core team members assisted to make the MobilePack project a success. “I especially want to thank Trinity United Methodist Church and Pastor Barry Dundas,” Ourada said. “Their initial commitment to sponsor and their continued support of this event was outstanding. Without them, the great success would not have been possible.”