Three area organizations joined forces to celebrate National Volunteer Day on Saturday, November 18.
The Volunteer Center, a nonprofit that links volunteers to local community organizations in need of volunteers, sponsored the event. It was hosted by Waynedale United Methodist Church, 2501 Church Street and powered by Project 216, a local nonprofit food aid organization.
More than 50 volunteers aged 5 to 85 gathered Saturday morning to help pack 11,664 meals. These meals will be shipped through Feed the Hungry in South Bend to feed the refugees coming out of Ukraine and those devastated by the earthquakes in Hungry and Syria.
The goal at Project 216 is to provide the most nutritious meal possible. The Nutri-Plenty® meal contains rice, soy, vegetables, and a Mathile M+ Micronutrients® packet. Volunteers formed five assembly lines, measuring each ingredient into a bag that was weighed then sealed. Some volunteers were a bit more competitive than others, but everyone joined the cheer that rose when the red bell was rung to symbolize the completion of another case of meals. Each case of 18 bags costs $65 and equals 216 meals, hence the name.
The meal is very easy to prepare, which is important given the critical circumstances that many families are in when they receive it. The only items required are a pot, spoon, and boiling water. Also, it’s easy to digest. The meal provides a rich source of protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins needed by a malnourished child’s body and mind.
Ellen Mann is the Event Development Specialist for Project 216. She states, “We were excited to once again partner with Volunteer Center to give area families an opportunity to experience the joy of volunteering together. The enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers was very much appreciated.”
National Family Volunteer Day is a global day of service that originated in 1990 through Points of Light. Family volunteering is when families work together to support their communities or neighborhoods, which strengthens the community and the family. When they created this day, they also endeavored to provide an opportunity to use this occasion as a tool to help parents raise kind and compassionate kids. Family volunteering can be extremely fun, regardless of the number of family members involved, and it can encourage a family to spend quality time together.
“We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light… we all have something to give. “— President George H.W. Bush, Founder of Points of Light
The Volunteer Center connects volunteers and has several Signature Programs that address critical disparities affecting low to moderate income households and the most vulnerable in our community. These include Coats for Kids, VITA Tax Assistance, Senior Chat, I CAN Volunteer Team and Second Chance Legal Initiative.
Volunteer Center Executive Director Ani Etter said “We are thankful for the families that took time to come and volunteer to pack meals for families they will never meet. The younger generation learned about giving back from their moms, dads, and grandparents. This was an investment in the future of volunteering in our community.”
Pastor Bill Garver of Waynedale UMC shared “It was exciting to host this event again this year. WUMC is a community church and we love opening our doors to help others. We look forward to participating in the continued growth of this event next year.”
The Family Volunteer Day was described by volunteers as “Amazing,” “Fun,” “Important,” and all agreed it was a great way to kick off Thanksgiving and the season of giving.
- Local Families Volunteer Together To Fight Hunger - November 24, 2023
- Neighbors Volunteer At Community Harvest SeniorPak Program - September 1, 2023
- Two Local Churches Add Community Recreation ~ Community Spotlight - October 21, 2022