GRAFTON—Volunteers from 11 different churches, along with the Grafton Rotary Club gathered early Saturday morning to work to help fight hunger both within the United States and internationally.
The group of approximately 81 individuals packed the great room at the First Baptist Church of Grafton, located on US Route 119 South, for a day of fun and fellowship preparing and packaging 28,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger.
“It is so amazing to see everyone come together to work toward a common goal,” expressed Brenda Rosier, Grafton Rotarian and First Baptist Church member.
Rosier said that this year, individuals were able to raise $7,000, which would allow them to package 24,000 meals, during this year’s event. Rise Against Hunger Assistant Community Engagement Manager Brady Smith reported that this year’s sponsor, Kraft Heinz, matched the funds raised, upping the number of meals to 28,000.
“I’m so excited that we reached that goal,” shared Rosier. “We would have never been able to meet it ourselves, but everyone came together, working together to do what we could not do by ourselves.”
She added that in the in the first year, the organizations were able to prepare 10,000 meals.
“We were so excited when we reached that 10,000 goal, so to be able to prepare 28,000 meals this year, we are just ecstatic.”
Volunteers from Middleville Baptist, Flemington Baptist, Union Baptist, Linn Chapel, Church of the Good Shepherd, Simpson Creek Baptist, Boothsville Baptist, Mt. Vernon Baptist, Hepzibah Baptist, Philippi Baptist Churches, along with the First Baptist Church of Grafton and Rotarians danced as sang as they worked to help end hunger.
First Baptist Pastor Orville Wright said that this year’s turnout was better than in years past.
“It is so fantastic to see how so many churches and community organizations can come together to work for a common goal,” he voiced. “It is heartwarming to know that our community is filled with such caring and compassionate citizens.”
By 10:30 a.m., the group had portioned, prepared, packaged, weighed and boxed 16,000 meals, which included dry goods such as rice and beans. With every 1000 meals packaged, Smith rang a gong.
“This has been a great event,” shared Smith. “Everyone is having fun and working toward a great cause.”
He disclosed that due to the recent hurricanes and natural disasters across the United States, the need for food has increased.
“Our organization has sent a lot of meals to those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” he said. “We are trying to get as many meals out as we can during the final three months of the year.”
Rise Against Hunger’s mission is to end world hunger through the outreach of communities across the globe. The organization was created in 1998, when United Methodist Minister Ray Buchanan decided to do something to help with the ever-growing problem, founding Stop Hunger Now.
The organizations underwent a rebranding in 2017, which changed the name to Rise Against Hunger, according to the organization’s website www.riseagainsthunger.org.
The website states that each year, meal packaging volunteers work to produce millions of nutritious meals, which are then distributed to partners in countries around the world. The meals are used as a tool to change lives by promoting education, improving health and nutrition in school-aged children, stimulating economic growth and fighting child labor, as well as addressing gender inequalities.
“I think that this event and Rise Against Hunger are just wonderful,” expressed Grafton Rotary President Pat White. “Anytime you can help feed someone in need, it is a wonderful thing. I am so very happy that our Rotary Club can be a part of it.”
Rosier revealed that volunteers at this year’s event ranged in age from 4-year-olds to adults.
“We have at least five pastors and two youth pastors here today, along with volunteers of all ages, some as young as four and five years old,” Rosier shared. “It is awesome to see so many people coming out to support a great cause.”
“Although I am stationed out of Greensburg, Pennsylvania right now, I am originally from West Virginia. So, to be able to come back here and package meals with people from home is great,” imparted Smith. “There is a great turnout, great passion, great people and this is a great event!”