By Rick Wolcott*
“This is the biggest day of service that will take place on the Baldwin Wallace University campus this year,” said Christy Walkuski, Director of BW Office of Community Outreach & Service-Learning. “We will pack 40,000 meals for Pack Away Hunger to benefit Mission Guatemala.”
Ever since adopting his two sons from Guatemala, the Rev. Tom Heaton has worked to improve the quality of life in the country. Heaton, an ordained elder in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church, started Mission Guatemala in 2009.
“Our goal was to open a small medical clinic – and everything snowballed from there,” he said. “Today we have a medical clinic, a dental clinic, an eye clinic, and feeding programs. We do about 8,000 meals a month. This is exciting to see that all these students and people turned out to pack food and to make a difference,” he said.
“It’s a great way for BW to demonstrate how important it is to help people in need,” said BW President Dr. Robert Helmer. “John Baldwin founded this place for that reason and it’s nice to continue that tradition 170 years later.”
All five United Methodist-related Universities in Ohio (Baldwin Wallace, Mount Union, Ohio Northern, Ohio Wesleyan, and Otterbein) worked together with Bishop Greg Palmer (West Ohio) and Bishop John Hopkins (East Ohio) to host community service days this fall.
The Baldwin Wallace University service day was held inside the Lou Higgins Recreation Center, where the dry meals were assembled by 300 volunteers. One of them was Manola Sandoval, a BW junior studying business administration and entrepreneurship. Sandoval was born and raised in Guatemala City, the nation’s capital.
“For me it’s really exciting to see all of these people coming together to learn about and help my country,” he said. “It makes me happy because I am helping my country from another country.”
Sarah Dave is youth director at the United Methodist Church of Berea (North Coast District), which is located on the Baldwin Wallace University campus. She and some of the youth joined with members of the church’s Mission Committee to create a work team at the meal-packing event.
“I think it’s important for youth to understand that even though we have problems, sometimes it’s nothing compared to what other kids are going through in other countries.”
Vivien Swaddling, director of children’s ministry at UMCB added that the church likes to do projects with United Methodist-related institutions.
“It’s amazing to see all the folks who came out,” said BW Chaplain Dr. John Gordon. “It’s just incredible to think about the number of meals we were able to pack in such a short amount of time. This is an expression of BW at its best.”
“The love that you put into these meals will make a difference in the lives of the people of Guatemala,” Bishop John L. Hopkins of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church told the volunteers,
“By you even being here means that you have a core value that’s part of what started Baldwin Wallace,” Hopkins said. “I hope that this is a sign that your whole life will be a life of paying back and paying it forward for others.”
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.