Children’s ministry provides over 20,000 meals to needy
Shelby Basye and Amaya Crabbe help carry items to the tables as hundreds gathered in fellowship.
What began as an idea for a small mission project for an elementary Sunday School class, Jesus and Me (JAM) became an overwhelming reality on Saturday, August 24, at Melrose United Methodist Church in Lottsburg.
In January, Nickie Loving and her daughter Abby attended a workshop on children’s ministry in Williamsburg, as leaders of the JAMs group at Melrose. “They were looking for a small mission project their elementary age children could sponsor, as they knew they couldn’t participate in the week- long trips or construction projects that older youth take part in,” said Abby.
As ideas were thrown around in a small group setting, the Stop Hunger Now (SHN) mission project was introduced and caught their attention. From that, the JAMs decided to take this mission project on.
The children immediately put a presentation together for the congregation of Melrose who at that point got behind the children 200 percent. The Melrose Children had a vision: help stop hunger!
“Our original goal was to raise enough to package 10,000 meals by Thanksgiving,” said Nickie.
They learned there is enough food in the world to feed every single person 4.3 lbs. each day, yet 925 million people go without food every day and 400 million of these are children.
A child dies every 15 seconds due to malnutrition based on studies by Stop Hunger Now (SHN), she said. The SHN organization provides nutritious dehydrated meals containing rice, soy, dried veggies, and 21 essential vitamins and minerals. These packaged meals are distributed in 36 countries including The United States and cost only 25 cents per meal.
SHN also has just introduced water filtrating buckets that can also be purchased and shipped to provide clean drinking/cooking water. One bucket provides 100 people clean water per day for over 10 years.
Through several fundraisers and special offerings taken at Melrose, the JAMs were able to raise over $6,000 in just seven months. The event date was moved up from November to August.
“It was very clear to me that not only the children and congregation were behind this, but clearly God had His hand in this from the beginning,” said one congregation member on Saturday. The JAMs also visited the SHN warehouse in Richmond in July to see where the meals they packaged would go once they were packaged and packed at Melrose.
The day everyone worked so hard for finally arrived this past weekend. They had hoped to have at least seventy-five volunteers to help, but on Saturday almost 100 people showed up at Melrose Church, Not only their own congregation, but from other churches as well. Together, they packaged 21,012 meals and provided funding for eight filtration budgets for SHN.
“I feel so blessed to have been just a very small piece of this project,” Nickie said, adding she was so proud of her JAMs for their will and determination to get it done. It was such a blessing to see our congregation of all ages and people from the community and other churches come together to package these meals. Each time a thousand meals were packaged, a gong was hit and it was exciting to hear and see everyone singing, dancing, clapping, and just smiling and having fun while serving and being the hands and feet of Christ. “It certainly warmed my heart. We certainly will do it again,” said Nickie.
Hannah C. Craddock, Assistant Program Manager of the Richmond | SHN Warehouse, was also on hand Saturday to assist with the program. She said, “The meal packaging program has been going on since 2005. Since then we have packaged 107,620,989 meals (and counting)!” Their mission, she added is to end hunger in our lifetime. They have a goal of over 2.1 million meals out of their warehouse. The Richmond warehouse is one of 19 warehouses in the United States, four in Virginia alone. Their local partners raise 25 cents per meal, with a minimum of 10,000 meals for an on-site event. They bring all the ingredients and equipment needed for packing. They ship globally all around the world, targeting programs like schools, orphanages, agricultural programs, day programs, etc. she said.