By Rick Wolcott*
“I want to make a difference.”
That’s the reason that Julia, an 8th grader from Shoregate UMC (Western Reserve District) in Willowick, and 409 others gathered at Fredericktown High School for Project Feed. Over just a few hours the group packed 35,400 dry meals that will be used to feed the hungry here in the United States and around the world.
The meals will be distributed by Stop Hunger Now, an organization founded in 1998 by Ray Buchanan. The ordained United Methodist minister has a vision to end hunger in his lifetime.
“A lot of kids like to do something around a cause, so it’s great to bring them to this event and to work with teens from the rest of the conference to raise awareness for hunger issues,” said Jason Hockran, youth pastor of Andover UMC (Western Reserve District), who brought 16 people from the church.
“This is a global effort that we can impact locally,” said Tracey Edwards, who has been with Stop Hunger Now for the past two years.
“I don’t think our kids understand how much hunger there is out there,” said the Rev. Lenore Robinson, pastor of Spencer UMC (Firelands District).
“Because we talked about evangelism and sharing your story at Youth Annual Conference, we wanted to give youth groups a way to invite friends and to have an experience of serving,” said Kaye Wolfinger, director of East Ohio Conference Youth & Young Adult Ministries and Higher Education & Campus Ministry.
Participants paid an admission fee to defer the cost of the ingredients for the meals. The admission fee was reduced if they brought a canned good. The cans – 900 in all – were donated to Interchurch Social Services of Knox County.
“We want teens to realize how easy it is to help someone else and to find a way to serve in their community,” Wolfinger said.
“This is a tangible experience for these youth,” Edwards said. “They are one person but they can make a lot of difference through the work they are doing with their hands.”
“This raises the kids’ awareness of hunger. It’s something the kids can rally around,” Hockran said.
Robinson summed up the feelings of those who gathered to make a difference in the lives of others.
“Today is unbelievable!” she said.
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.