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Volunteers pack 286,200 meals in 12 hours

Hundreds of volunteers of all ages packed thousands of meals to send to Swaziland, Africa, at Crossroads Church Saturday. Staff photo by Riham Feshir1 / 2
A large Kids Against Hunger truck was filled with the meals by the end of the 12-hour day. Staff photo by Riham Feshir2 / 2

More than 800 members and friends of Crossroads Church gave up their Saturday to pack up thousands of meals for African families and children.

The church coordinated the event with Kids Against Hunger, a humanitarian organization that distributes the meals.

The group topped its ambitious goal of 285,000 meals and ended up packing 286,200 to send to Swaziland, Africa by the end of the 12-hour day.

Crossroads Missions Director Lisa Adams said by the end of the first two-hour shift, volunteers had packed 20,000 meals.

"I'm just thrilled. I'm excited that our congregation got behind us," she said.

Hundreds of volunteers stood in assembly line positions to pack up bags containing rice, soy and vegetables for the needy in Swaziland.

The southern African country suffers from the HIV pandemic and the need for proper nutrition continues to rise there, Adams said.

Each bag volunteers assembled feeds a family of six and costs about 23 cents.

"Hunger is a problem that all of us can pitch in and solve," Adams said.

Celebrating a birthday at Saturday's event was Terri Miller, a Woodbury resident who brought her three kids with her to help pack up the meals.

"What better way to celebrate your birthday," she said, as she sealed up a back of rice and soy. "It's important to help even if they're on the other side of the world."

Many church members made a family outing out of the packing mission, including Suma and Aby John, who brought their two children to teach them about the importance of helping those in need.

"Make 'em think about people other than themselves," Suma John said.

Throughout each shift, Kids Against Hunger representatives kept a tally of how many meals were packed.

The crowded church auditorium had volunteers passing along a steady flow of boxes ready to be shipped in a large truck parked outside of the church.

Scott Anderson, director of packaging with Kids Against Hunger, said big packing events can turn out more than one million meals.

The meals mean much more to those receiving them than simply filling up hungry tummies.

Anderson said it's designed to help orphans get the proper nutrition, recover from serious illnesses and move on to become educated men and women who work and serve their countries.

Crossroads Church has had a long-term relationship with Africa, Adams said, and has set a goal to donate $400,000 over a three-year period to provide clean drinking water to Swaziland.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.