Staff photo by Emmy Errante
Volunteers form an assembly line to pack meals for the world’s hungry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Saturday, Nov. 16 for Stop Hunger Now.
During the Wilmington Stop Hunger Now event on Saturday, Nov. 16, a total of 1,350 volunteers packaged 285,120 meals that will soon head to Swaziland, Africa, to help fight hunger.
Looking around the University of North Carolina’s Hanover Hall filled with volunteers, organizer Bill Anlyan said the 2013 event is huge compared to past years.
“We are maxing out at filling the shipping container,” Anlyan said.
During the first of three waves from 9 a.m. to noon, the 140 volunteers from the St. Therese Catholic Church parish community outreach committee wore white T-shirts while working together toward the common goal.
“This is a great community event to get all of the churches together,” said Dottie Fullerton, co-chair of the community outreach committee.
Fullerton listed numbers from Stop Hunger Now facts of hunger to illustrate the issue, such as the one billion people across the world who go to bed hungry each night.
St. Therese volunteers joined volunteers from Little Chapel on the Boardwalk, St. Andrew’s-On-the-Sound, Boy Scout Troop 26 and the university among others to make up the more than 400 volunteers in the first wave.
“It’s also great for people to realize that there are poor and hungry kids all over the world,” said Loretta Brady, another St. Therese volunteer. “Wherever somebody is in need, we should be there.”
Dr. Sonja Ardoin, director of the office for student leadership and engagement, described the set up as a super assembly line, which is a three-part effort coordinated by the community, university and Stop Hunger Now nonprofit.
“Each meal will have vitamins, soy and rice and vegetables,” Ardoin said. “The purpose of the event is to fight hunger. We’re not only doing that globally with Stop Hunger Now, but we’re also doing that locally because we have asked people to bring in nonperishable food items for the food bank here in town. For us, it’s recognition that hunger is both a local and global issue.”
Boxes were stacked nearly to the ceiling toward the left of the gym with bags of rice nearby in the back. Several picnic tables filled the middle of the gym for volunteers to take their positions.
The ingredients first travel through a funneling process, are heat sealed, put in boxes and then loaded into the shipping container.
“Other than the humanitarian aspect of it, it’s a lot of fun,” said Mike George, chairman of the St. Therese community outreach program.
Two additions to the annual event included a donation space for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, totaling 1,934 pounds, and a bucket for monetary donations to the Philippine relief effort, totaling more than $1,500.
“I think that’s resonated very well with people within the community,” Anlyan said. “We’re thankful that the community has responded. This is a tremendous community effort, and we’ve got old and young. It’s just wonderful to see so many people get involved.”