WHEATON –After the earthquake in Haiti four years ago, St. Michael teacher and parishioner Annamarie Boyle saw a need and decided to take action to meet it.
She spoke with the pastor of the parish, the Rev. Dan Hoehn, and soon began organizing a churchwide fundraiser and event for Feed My Starving Children.
“The first year, it was pretty much just my friends and I, but we got $17,000,” Boyle said. “And the parish just got more involved.”
Nine churches from Wheaton and hundreds of volunteers from the surrounding areas came together at the DuPage County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday to pack meals for starving children around the world.
Feed My Starving Children is a Christian charity that uses donations to fund the purchase of ingredients for their patented nonperishable, highly nutritional meals for malnourished children around the world. FMSC also hosts events where the volunteers pack the components of the meal in large assembly lines.
Boyle said this year they received $32,500 in donations – more than their goal of $30,000. Seven hundred volunteers packaged 147,744 meals during the two days. And while much of the organization and rallying came from the nine churches, those involved said they wanted to make sure to include everyone in the area.
“We want an event where the community can see there’s unity among all the different denominations in the church and that we are not all divided,” said Pastor Devin Leftwich of Vessels of His Love, a participating church. “It’s our hope that it will soon be something the community comes together for instead of just churches.”
Boyle said that Leftwich was a big part of the expansion from a St. Michael event to a Wheaton-wide church event two years ago. Leftwich is the convener of the Wheaton Ministry Leaders group, where the heads of churches and parachurch organizations meet over lunch to talk. He wanted to come up with something the churches of Wheaton could do together.
Leftwich said the goal is to expand the event whenever and however they can, and he wants to one day pack a million meals.
“It’s a donation of time and energy, but there’s a true joy in giving,” Boyle said. “If even one life is saved through this help and hope, it’s all worth it. The meals we make will be able to feed hundreds of children for an entire year.”