If you heard the term “Pack-a-thon,” you might think it had something to do with a certain large university on Hillsborough Street. But this particular event doesn’t have anything to do with NC State – although I’m quite sure some Wolfpackers will be among the hundreds of people who will be taking part. So what exactly is a Pack-a-thon?
“A Pack-a-thon is a food packing event,” says Joseph Williams, CEO of the Burlington, NC, based ministry Feed the Hunger. “Volunteers age five years old and up can come and help package four specific ingredients that they also seal and box. Then we put them on pallets and then on a container and send them to different countries around the world where there are hungry kids that we help.”
Feed the Hunger has held Pack-a-thons at locations across the southeast. The next one is scheduled for July 20th and 21st at Raleigh’s Providence Baptist Church. The goal: a staggering 300,000 meals to be packed for hungry children in Kenya.
“That’s going to take around 1,400 volunteers, Williams told me. “A packing station has on average around 17 people. They’re going to have 17 stations (at the church) going simultaneously in three different rooms, in three different shifts. It’s obviously going to involve a ton of people.”
Here's a video clip that shows how it all works. More than a thousand volunteers have already signed up for the Providence event, but they could still use more. Each shift is for two hours, and you can sign up for more than one shift if you wish. And no expertise is required.
“We do what’s called a table talk at the beginning of every shift, where we walk them through the process,” says Williams, “then we let ‘em go for a good hour and a half to pack as fast as they can. And it’s a lot of fun. By the time people’s shifts are over they’re usually surprised that it’s already over and they want to do it again.”
Dehydrated vegetables, soy, and rice are among the foodstuffs that get packed away. But Williams says the main item is a fortified powder containing 19 essential vitamins and minerals.
“It was engineered by an executive with General Mills who saw the need of kids around the world and decided to develop this powder that, if it was added to food with the right other ingredients, any child anywhere in the world could not only survive but thrive.”
The taste is pretty bland, but in most of the places that the food packets are delivered the locals will add a spice or sauce to it to give it a regional flavor.
Feed the Hunger is the children’s ministry of the evangelical mission organization New Directions International. They pack and ship about two million meals a year. But, as indicated by the organization’s motto “It’s more than a meal,” Williams says food is only a part of what they’re about:
“There’s an old proverb – not in the Bible, actually, I think it’s credited somewhere in Asia – it says an empty stomach has no ears. So we can’t expect a child to want to hear about Jesus or even want to hear anything at school if they’re starving. So it’s meeting the whole needs of the kid: the spiritual hunger, the physical hunger, and the hunger for an education, all at once.”
No arguing with the ump – especially when the ump is wearing a clerical collar! The Office of Vocations from the Diocese of Raleigh is hosting a “Men in Black” softball game and Priestly Vocation Night on Wednesday (July 11th). The game will pit a team of priests and seminarians against a team of high school and college-aged young men. There will also be a picnic and a presentation on priestly vocations. Bishop Michael Burbidge will be one of the umpires. More info here.
Speaking of Bishop Burbidge, he’s just back from Helsinki, Finland, where he co-chaired the International Dialogue between Catholics and Pentecostals. The Vatican appointed him co-chair last year. The dialogue started in 1972 to foster mutual respect and understanding between the two faith groups. Bishop Burbidge calls the Helsinki sessions "fruitful."
It’s not often you hear archaeologists use words like “exciting” and “stunning” in describing a find. But that’s what famed UNC Chapel Hill professor Jodi Magness is saying about the recent discovery of an ancient synagogue in northern Israel. Read about what makes this ancient house of worship so special at this link.