Rich Direnzo of Lombard is what they call a "Super Volunteer" at Feed My Starving Children in Schaumburg.
Founded in 1987, Feed My Starving Children is a Christian, nonprofit organization that provides nutritionally complete meals for starving, malnourished and hungry people in nearly 70 countries around the world.
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The prepackaged dry meals, costing less than a quarter each to make, are funded and assembled by donor-volunteers in the United States.
Direnzo has been volunteering on a weekly basis for the last year and a half at the Schaumburg facility since falling in love with the operation after doing a MobilePack event with a church in Wheaton.
He considers himself a "warehouse guy," whose duties are to go around and keep bins filled with rice and soy so volunteer groups have plenty to pack for their two-hour sessions. When their boxes are full, Direnzo weighs them to make sure the weight is correct, seals them, and puts them on a skid for shipping.
After retiring a few years ago, Direnzo tried volunteer work with several organizations before settling on FMSC.
"This seemed like a much more needed organization, this was immediate. If these people aren't fed today, they could be dead tomorrow, and that's what kind of hit me," Direnzo said.
FMSC operates with one of the highest efficiency ratings in the nonprofit sector: 93 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to feeding programs.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., FMSC currently has two permanent meal-packing sites in the Chicago area: Schaumburg and Aurora. Last year, volunteers from families, schools, churches, businesses and civic groups packed 32 million meals at these sites combined.
Groups sometimes wait for six months for an open two-hour packing session. FMSC has launched a capital fundraising campaign to launch a third site in the northern Chicago suburbs near Mundelein or Libertyville. The new site, in addition to adding weekday meal-packing hours in Schaumburg, would increase annual meal capacity by 33 million in the Chicago area.
Across the entire FMSC system last year, including sites in Minnesota, Arizona, and 177 portable MobilePack events in 30 states, volunteers produced 133 million meals for Feed My Starving Children.