Posted by Walter B.
It was just after 1 p.m. on a Saturday and the clock was
ticking. We hadn't left yet and there was a 52-minute-plus trip
ahead of us. Our group was 42 strong, seven adults and 35
fifth- to 12th-graders heading out from our church in Orland Park
to work our butts off packing food for many less fortunate
people. People in countries like Haiti, El Salvador,
Indonesia, North Korea, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Uganda and
Zimbabwe were counting on us. The group loaded up in cars,
vans and SUVs to make the voyage to the Feed My Starving Children
packing facility in Aurora.
When we arrived, we were shown the orientation room, asked to grab a hair net, wash our hands and not touch anything until we put on our gloves. For many of us, this was our first time working the food packing line. We were met by an engaging older gentleman who carefully and charismatically described how we and the other 19 people working with us were to perform each task. Once we were given the OK to get started, we got busy. Real busy! Since only those 18 and older were allowed to work the plastic bag sealing stations, the youth selected jobs that either scooped and poured a selection of rice, soy, dried vegetable mix, vitamins and seasonings or weighed or packed the prepared food into bags and then boxes.
It made the time pass quick and fun as we decided to yell out something like "Go Blackhawks," "Go Bears," "SpongeBob SquarePants" and a variety of other fun things each time each group finished packing a box. This let the people volunteering their time in the warehouse know that it was time to come and get the box to weigh and pack on the pallet. We listened to music and some people really got into singing along. This sped things along and made working together a real blast.
As we finished our two-hour shift and cleaned up our work stations, the group was invited to the warehouse, to hear about what would happen to the food and pray together that it would reach its intended destination safely and nourish those in need. We were told that over the last 20 years, only a few Feed My Starving Children shipments have been hijacked.
After we prayed, we were offered a small sample of the cooked food that we had just spent the last several hours packing. For those of us who gave it a try, it was truly tasty. A woman from Feed My Starving Children told us that we packed 94 cases of 36 bags of prepared food each. With each bag able to feed six meals, we were able to calculate that our packing efforts contributed to providing 20,304 meals and would feed 58 starving children for a year. The average group packs about one carton per person packing or about 61 for a group our size. It felt really good to know that we did our very best.
This group of youth and adults learned valuable lessons about teamwork, camaraderie, service to humanity and had a lot of fun in the process. We shared our time, talents and were blessed to be able to contribute some money to help sustain the cause. Everyone said they would gladly return. I can't think of a better way to spend a part of a Saturday afternoon, can you?
If you would like to find out more about how you or your group can help pack or donate to this worthy cause, visit www.fmsc.org.