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I often hear and read stories that don’t present today’s youth in a flattering light. To paraphrase Earl Warren (a former Supreme Court chief justice), to read about positive youth accomplishments, we usually have to turn to the sports page. We only read about their failures on the front page.
But there are youth out there who are making a difference.
It has been my privilege to serve as a youth counselor at First United Methodist Church for the past three years. I don’t know how much the youth have learned from me, but they have taught me many things ó including compassion. For the seventh year, our youth, and youth from Shiloh and Bethel United Methodist churches, will participate in the 30 Hour Famine, helping the community and the world with hunger relief.
30 Hour Famine is a ministry started in 1992 by World Vision. Since then, youth around the country have raised more than $100 million to alleviate world hunger. On a 30 Hour Famine weekend, youth and their counselor fast for 30 hours to get a taste of what 850 million people in our world go through every day ó not having enough to eat.
We play games that teach about hunger, participate in Bible studies and try to avoid thinking about our empty stomachs. We distribute bags in the community to collect canned goods to go to Rowan Helping Ministries. One might have been put on your porch last weekend. We drive around picking those up on the famine weekend, as well. Those goods help greatly in the community.
But we must resort to other methods to raise money to help those around the world.
In the last seven years, FUMC has raised more than $13,000 for world hunger. Our youth have done this by soliciting donations from friends and family. This year, we decided to aim higher and try to raise more money.
Over the past month, our youth have been selling links of paper chain.
And it is no ordinary chain.
We made a chain with 29,000 links ó one link for every child who dies every day from hunger or preventable disease. Of those deaths, 15,000 are from hunger alone. That is one child dying every six seconds.
At the start of our fundraiser, I stood at the lectern in the sanctuary to introduce 30 Hour Famine to the congregation and ask for donations. We decided to have a visual representation of why we do the famine by carrying the entire chain into the sanctuary. From my perch in the lectern, I could see the youth in the courtyard. And I could see the chain. And it kept coming. And coming.
What seemed like a chain that would never end made its way through the congregation. It was a powerful representation and has helped us raise funds. We have been selling links from the chain for a quarter each. As of last Sunday, we have raised more than $1,500 and removed more than 6,000 links from the chain. But there are many more links to go.
It has been a true labor of love. Without passionate pastors, church staff, countless volunteers and our dedicated young people, we would have never gotten to this point and raised this much money. But we could always use help from the community.
If you would like to contribute to removing links from the chain, please bring checks or cash donations by the FUMC church office, 217 S. Church St. Checks should be made payable to First United Methodist Church, with 30 Hour Famine in the memo section.
If you received a bag on your front porch, please fill it with the items listed so that we can help Rowan Helping Ministries and the incredible work they do in the community. If you didn’t receive a bag at your home, I encourage you to stop by the food pantry and bring your food donations.And if you have a youth group that is looking for a way to make a difference and have fun doing it, look into the 30 Hour Famine. Visit 30hourfamine.org or call 800-7-FAMINE for more information. Or contact us at FUMC. We would love to come and tell you of our experiences.
They say that the kids of today care only about themselves, but I would disagree.
Fifty-five of our community youth will do their part next weekend to end hunger and make a difference.

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