Before joining others to pack meals for needy children across the world a few years ago, Becca Malburg felt a healthy portion of gratitude from within — especially when she saw that many youngsters in third-world countries get perhaps only one decent meal per day.
Such was her first experience at a Feed My Starving Children volunteer event a few years ago at The Ridge Church in Columbus.
“You see a video at the beginning that shows some of the children who have been fed through this program, where the food is going, and how people’s lives are being impacted,” Malburg said. “So, it really gives you a perspective through seeing their lives.”
Malburg and nearly 600 others at The Ridge and their friends are gearing up for their fourth annual gathering March 1-2 to pack some 125,000 dehydrated, prepackaged meals — later prepared with boiling water in impoverished nations — for the needy. And a few two-hour volunteer shift spots remain on the schedule, according to organizers.
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Founded in 1987, the Minnesota-based Feed My Starving Children is a Christian nonprofit that provides nutritionally complete meals for starving, malnourished and hungry youngsters. The prepackaged meals — costing about 22 cents apiece — are sent to about 70 nations across the globe, according to the ministry’s website.
Other local churches such as Asbury United Methodist and Sandy Hook Church also have done successful meal-packing events in the fall.
Part of the attraction and popularity of such outreaches, according to those who have volunteered, is that they give Christians and others a direct way of fighting hunger in struggling nations without volunteers leaving their home area and with minimal effort. Plus, those unable to volunteer can donate to the cause to help cover the 22-cent cost of each meal packed.
Ridge organizers already have raised about $20,000 for their effort, with about $27,000 needed.
Mike Morrow, operations director at The Ridge, sounds somewhat amazed that a church taking parts of just two days can change a struggling child’s life for as much as a year in the most rudimentary but life-giving way.
“When you think about what we can do to make a significant difference, and then you think about the idea of providing a meal (per day) that can keep a child from starving … I don’t know how you can possibly make a better ministry investment than that,” Morrow said.
And in a world where churches or other ministries may feel some pressure to continue to make outreach efforts more extensive year by year, Morrow and Ridge leaders have spoken with Feed My Starving Children officials who have encouraged the church to find its “sweet spot,” as Morrow put it, for volunteerism and involvement, for the sake of long-term commitment.
Morrow guesses this current level of outreach, measured in volunteers, hours, money and meals, may be just right where it should be for the church. One of The Ridge leaders’ views of its overall outreach ministry is simple: Help your members in ways that they need it so they in turn can then reach beyond the church walls to help others in the local community and far beyond.
Overall in three years, Ridge volunteers have packed 374,000 meals for Feed My Starving Children, according to Malburg, the church’s communications director.
And Morrow emphasized that the impact of the meals stretches beyond nutrition. Because the international food ministry works alongside other agencies to provide children with education and more.
“And it all starts with a meal,” Morrow said.
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At press time, The Ridge still had a few two-hour shift openings for volunteers to help pack dehydrated meals for hungry children via the Feed My Starving Children ministry.
You can sign up, or if you can’t volunteer, you can make a financial donation to cover the cost of the meals at theridge.org.
Information: Tricia Jones at 812-376-8455.