Thousands converge in Schaumburg to pack meals for malnourished kids
The members of Cary Girl Scout Troop 787 worked like a well-oiled machine packing meals during a Feed My Starving Children volunteer event Saturday at the Schaumburg Convention Center.
"I wanted to be scooping the rice," said 9-year-old Deborah Grover of Cary, adding other jobs "didn't sound as fun." Grover and fellow troop member Gabriella Dolecki, 8, of Crystal Lake, scooped rice and soy respectively into plastic packages called MannaPacks that also contain vitamins and dried vegetables. The packs are then weighed, sealed, boxed and loaded onto pallets for shipment to 70 countries around the world.
Grover's twin sister, Sophie, helped seal the packets, one of which feeds six malnourished children for about 22 cents a meal according to FMSC organizers.
"It's really fun. I like being able to do stuff with my group," said Sophie Grover, whose troop packed 91 boxes two years ago, the last time they volunteered for FMSC.
Founded in 1987 by a Minnesota businessman, the late Richard Proudfit, FMSC is a Christian, hunger relief organization that provides nutritional meals for malnourished children, mostly in developing and/or impoverished countries. The charity works with nongovernmental organizations, missionaries and other faith-based groups to get the MannaPacks to orphanages, schools, missions and hospitals where they're distributed to locals in need, said development manager Marilyn Maurella. More than 1 million people volunteer each year at FMSC's eight permanent distribution centers (including centers in Aurora, Schaumburg and Libertyville) and at temporary sites like the convention center.
By midday Saturday, the group was on track to reach its goal of 1 million meals packed this weekend by more than 5,000 volunteers, Maurella said.
Peggy Shumway enlisted help from about 100 friends, neighbors, fellow parishioners and co-workers from Gogo Inc., a company that provides in-flight internet service. A volunteer for eight years, Shumway says people are interested in community service for the thankfulness it instills. More important, is what those efforts mean to people around the world. "In developing countries, it's easy for kids to be defined by poverty," Shumway said, her eyes filling with tears. "Having food allows them to understand who they can be."
Saturday's first shift was the most productive to date, resulting in 625 boxes containing 216 meals for a total of 135,000 meals produced, according to organizers who say that translates to feeding 369 children for one year.
Jack and Donna Campbell of Elmhurst first encountered FMSC three years ago. They say this is the perfect time of year for this event.
"People are filled with the giving spirit," said Jack, who with his wife volunteers several times a month at the Schaumburg facility.
The couple recently returned from Haiti and Nicaragua, where they observed firsthand the efforts of the charity which claims 99.8 percent of the food packs reach people in need. "From what we saw, that is absolutely true," Jack Campbell said.
• For information on volunteering for Feed My Starving Children see fmsc.org/volunteer.