Assembly line of generosity: 10 churches box 50,000 meals for Africa’s impoverished


Rea Jose, a volunteer with the Global Aid Network, stands in front of a bevy of beans at Greenwood Mennonite School on Saturday morning. Nearly 250 volunteers from 10 churches throughout Delaware, ranging in ages from 8-years-old to the elderly, showed up at the school on Saturday morning to help pack 50,000 meals of rice and beans in just two hours for those in need in East Africa. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

GREENWOOD — The parking lot at Greenwood Mennonite School was filled with buses, mini vans and cars on a chilly, breezy Saturday morning.

No, it wasn’t a soccer tournament, or any other kind of similar activity, that drew groups of people from 10 churches throughout Delaware to the small school in Sussex County.

Rather, it was just the chance to give back.

Inside the school’s gymnasium it was a bee hive of activity, with around 230 people — aged from 8-years-old to the elderly — coming together to form makeshift assembly lines in an effort to send 50,000 meals of rice and beans to the impoverished in Africa.

Their mission was accomplished just two hours later as two large trucks from the Global Aid Network (GAIN) were filled with boxes full of rice and beans ready to take the next step on their humanitarian journey to countries in East Africa.

“We do these kinds of missions all over the place,” said Steve Baker, a project coordinator with GAIN. “I’ve done this at the University of Southern California, at West Virginia University, at George Mason University and we do it with churches, obviously.

“But the one’s I like best are these community projects where people from different churches are working and pulling together. The community efforts are the ones I really like and this one has that written all over it.”

Indeed, Loretta Schrock, of Dover’s Maranatha Fellowship Church, was among those pulling together in an effort to feed the needy.

“All of this is going to go to Africa and it’s for the very poor, where a lot of these kids get one meal a day and this may be their meal,” she said.

“People are also donating blankets and quilts because a lot of these families don’t have a home and so they carry their blankets on their back and this gives them something to wrap up with.”

The volunteer work that was being done while many people were probably still trying to get motivated to get moving on Saturday morning was inspiring.

Some people, including dozens of children, poured the beans and rice into the bags while others held them, some sealed the food and others boxed them and moved them from station to station.

“This will go to East Africa,” Mr. Baker said. “People who will be benefiting from this will be the Somali’s and Sudanese. There’s a Civil War in South Sudan and there’s famines and droughts in that part of the world, so a lot of refugee situations are not necessarily war-related in every case.”

The Global Aid Network is based out of Texas, but its’ food distribution center is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Baker said the churches that hosted Saturday’s event raised the funds, in this case $15,000, to cover the cost of what the group packed at the humanitarian event.

“In this case with rice and beans we pack it at 30 cents a meal,” he said. “The total weight of the rice and beans we brought down (from Lancaster) was just shy of 15,000 pounds.”

Just the math and the number of people who would benefit from the food was staggering.

“Each box contains 144 meals,” Mr. Baker said. “In a refugee situation this would be a meal a day for a family of five for a month. We are doing close to 350 of these boxes, and there’s 41 pounds to a box.

“So, 350 families who don’t necessarily know where their next meal is coming from, a lot of them are living in abandoned buildings or in a tent by the side of the road or under an overpass or something, will now have food to eat.”

Everybody who participated in the event made a huge contribution.

While they were each their own individual piece of a larger puzzle, each participant on average was responsible for about 200 of the meals that were packaged in just two hours’ time.

“It’s been a great turnout,” Mr. Baker said. “We’ve got more than enough help, for sure.”

Rebecca Jones, of Seaford, said it was her first time participating in an event like this. She said it was not only inspiring to see all the people around her, but it was fulfilling as well.

“This is for a good cause, it’s to help out people,” Ms. Jones said. “We’re in a country where we have so much, so if we can do a little bit just to help out somebody else, then why not?

“This is amazing. There is some really good work happening here and I think it’s cool to be a part of it.”


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