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Churches come together to pack meals for Hurricane Florence victims

CHINA GROVE — In bright red hairnets, a sea of volunteers worked in multiple assembly lines Saturday in the fellowship hall of Concordia Lutheran Church.

Packages of rice, beans, dehydrated vegetables and vitamin powder were assembled as meals for victims of Hurricane Florence.

The effort came through partnership with Feed the Hunger, a Christian mission based in Graham. The  group works to satisfy spiritual and physical hunger around the globe by providing Bibles, nutritious food, clean water, emergency aid and other relief.

Many of the prepackaged meals have gone to relieve hungry and displaced families the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina after the hurricane, with some 15,000 to 30,000 meals a day being served in Wilmington.

Through partnerships with churches like Concordia, Feed the Hunger is able to provide meals for just 28 cents per serving.

“As hosts, we provide the facility, the funds and the people,” said Sarah Brandt, who helped orchestrate Feed the Hunger pack-athons at the church both this year and last. Volunteers included members of at least four churches, Girl Scout groups and 4-H students, she said.

The organization, in turn, shows up with the necessary supplies: those bright hairnets, bins of food, bags, labels and boxes for shipping.

The bags are filled with the contents for six meals, then labeled, sealed and packaged for shipment.

Concordia Church raised nearly $10,150, exceeding last year’s total by more than $1,000. That added up to 36,240 meals.

Faith Lutheran Church hosted a similar event with Rise Against Hunger on Sunday, raising $3,400 for food and materials.

“With the hurricanes right here in our state, more people felt led to give, is what I think. God supplies what we need when we need it,” said Brandt. “… It’s just amazing to be a part of his plan.”

Brandt approached her church about hosting a pack-athon in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Feed the Hunger was looking for churches who could host a them quickly.

Last time, they had three weeks to prepare. This year, they had seven.

The coolest part of this year’s efforts, Brandt said, was a “noisy offering” collected by the church’s children’s and youth ministry. The group raised $1,172.65 in pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and gold dollars — enough for 4,100 meals.

“They’ve been excited,” said Sarah Wells, the mother of two first-graders who participated in the offering. “Monday after we collected the money, I went and ate lunch with them at school. The first thing they said was, ‘How much money did we get?'”

Wells had taken some of the change to be mechanically counted after youths rolled $850 in quarters. Both her children were part of Saturday’s assembly line.

Celia Fox, a Weekend Warrior with Feed the Hunger, said most of Saturday’s meals will go to Wilmington, though the organization also has commitments to orphanages in Haiti, where the remainder will be shipped.

“With six meals in a bag, 40 bags in a box and 240 meals in one of our boxes, one box will feed one kid for a whole school year,” said Fox.

To plan your own pack-athon or donate to Feed the Hunger, visit https://www.feedthehunger.org/.

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