The Life Center at River Hills Community Church will be the scene of a huge event to feed the hungry come Sept. 10. The community is invited - no cooking skills required.
“Our food packaging event will be a prime example of how we do missions,” said Monique Boekhout, chair of the missions department. “While lending our support with heart, hands and money, we find one compelling goal to serve the needy, feeding them spiritually and physically, while sharing the love of God with them.”
In keeping with the church’s capital campaign theme, “The Excitement is Building!,” the church hopes to have 600 volunteers from churches, businesses and individuals to come together to pack 100,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. Volunteers are needed in one of three, 90-minute shifts.
According to its website, Stop Hunger Now “gets food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable people, and works to end global hunger in our lifetime.” Based in Raleigh, N.C., the organization has a site in Charlotte on Texland Boulevard.
Stop Hunger Now decides where the food is distributed. It could be Haiti, Nicaragua or Africa, or close to home like Columbia after a natural disaster.
“It’s not our decision,” said Boekhout, who has experience with international missions. “It’s wherever the need is at the moment, globally or nationally.”
The Rev. Gayle Montgomery has seen those on the receiving end of a similar project in Haiti.
“When the food arrived, I saw so many orphans clamoring at the containers,” she said. “They were so thrilled that someone in the world had answered their call. Because some of the little children would consume the food so ravenously, a few adults had to go around to slow them down. A pregnant mother who looked to be almost full term walked four miles to thank us. She just wanted to thank us.”
Five thousand flyers have been distributed, and several groups have already signed up to participate, including Publix, Bank of York, Clover Community Bank, Carolina Ingredients, Shutterfly, Winthrop University Civitans, Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church and Mark Cook, along with a group of 10 from his neighborhood in Fort Mill. Also, a Walk to Emmaus group and several Sunday school classes have registered, bringing the total so far to 426.
“Not only will we provide food for starving people, but we will also reach across lines that divide us and bring together people who want to serve with one heart, one mind, one agenda,” Montgomery said.
Every age group can find a seat at the table. Teenagers will be needed for the special gift of speed and agility they bring. Grandparents wishing to sit can work at bag-sealing stations. Childcare will be provided for parents who want to help.
On the Friday night preceding the event, about 30 tables for the food packaging, along with a sealing machine, will be set up. The event will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, and after viewing a short video on procedures and expectations, volunteers will work in 90-minute shifts. Upbeat, fast-paced music will play as an announcer challenges teams to race against each other in a spirit of joy, service and celebration.
“We’ll don our hair nets, pull on our gloves and fill bags with rice, soy flour, dried vegetables combining carrots, onion, tomato, celery, cabbage and bell pepper, as well as vitamins and minerals,” Montgomery said. “In the end, the mixture will resemble Rice-a- Roni.”
A free outdoor concert will follow at 6 p.m. Music includes the Experience Worship Band and guest soloists. Bring a picnic dinner and chairs. A cupcake truck will sell dessert.
The food packing event is one of the benefits of a capital campaign drive launched by the church last fall for major renovations and improvements. The church planned to raise $1.8 million, a tenth of which would support missions.
“Our church always has been and continues to be a missions-driven church,” Boekhout said.
Bessie Meeks of Lake Wylie is a freelance writer.
Want to go?
Stop Hunger Now food-packaging event is Sept. 10 at River Hills Community Church Life Center.
Volunteers are needed in one of three shifts 9-10:30 a.m., 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1-2:30 p.m.
To volunteer, register at events.stophungernow.org/RiverHills.
Visit rhcconline.org for more information.