I want to share with all of you a wonderful experience I had a couple of weeks ago. I volunteered a couple hours of my time to a wonderful organization called FMSC - Feed My Starving Children. They are very organized, friendly, and get the job done. Volunteers sign up in advance, on-line so FMSC knows how many volunteers to expect.
Volunteers are to show up 15 minutes before their 2-hour shift. I arrived and checked in. We were all advised to grab a hairnet and put it on, and to throw out any gum. Believe me, you quickly get over the embarrassment of wearing a hairnet since EVERYONE is wearing one. Jewelry is not allowed since we are working with food. If a person does not want to take off their wedding ring, they can wear a plastic glove.
Upon entering the warehouse, I immediately spied these flags hanging from the ceiling, representing several different countries.
I wandered around and saw this shipment board. It was June 6 so our shipment was going to Haiti.
We were instructed to sit down on these benches for a small introduction.
While waiting for everyone to arrive, pictures flashed on the TV like these:
Okay, so already I am feeling verklempt, and if it weren't for that funny hairnet photo, I might have started crying right then and there.
I started chatting up with some of the ladies. It turned out that most of the volunteers were from one company, a handful were teachers from a local college, four women were from a local garden club, and there were straggler volunteers....me and another woman.
Finally everyone had arrived and we were all seated. Sue, the worker with the BLUE hairnet (workers were distinguished from volunteers by the color of their hairnets!) began to speak.
She held up a large photo of a little girl eating a biscuit. "Do you know what this biscuit is made of?" She asked.
"Dough?" Someone yelled.
"Dirt?" Another person yelled.
"Dirt. That's right! Her mother has nothing to feed her child, so she resorts to using the hard dried up dirt to make into a biscuit for her child."
Okay. You had me at dirt. How can you not feel for these people?
We watched a short video about the mission in Haiti where the food was going that day. To you or I, this food doesn't look that tasty, personally, but to them, it's like manna from heaven.
I knew before I volunteered that there were "sit-down" positions available. I didn't think that I would be able to stand for two hours due to some health issues. So I went over to the label table.
We had to put labels on the food bag. Doesn't sound like much, but I will tell you that I worked pretty hard and straight through. My fingers were stiff for a couple of days.
Okay - don't laugh - but I asked the woman across from me to take my picture. I should have looked up because MAYBE it would have been a better picture. MAYBE.
Here are the fun women I worked with for the two hours. (The two men at the end left within the first half hour or so.)
The rest of the volunteers are getting their instructions for packing.
I really wish I could last for two hours on my feet, because it sounded like so much fun. The group split into teams and went to each work table. The girl in red, let's call her Mary, said, "Okay. I want each team to come up with a cheer. If you don't have a cheer, I will GIVE you one. Every time you fill a box, I want to hear a cheer!" Throughout the morning we'd hear the different teams yell out. Of course, the music was cranked so loud, it was almost hard to hear YOURSELF think, let alone a team cheer. The closest team to us kept yelling, "TEAM KENYA!!"
The group would fill the plastic bag (which we put the labels on). I am not sure of the ingredients; either it was dried potato flakes or rice, dried carrots, dried corn, whatever. I just saw a team member scoop 1 cup of something, another scoop 1/4 cup of something else, another scoop 1/4 cup of something else, etc. into the bag that someone placed under the funnel. Another person weighed the bag then handed to another person who sealed the bag with a machine, handed it another person who stacked it up, then placed into a box. They worked like a well-oiled machine. And to think that more than half of the volunteers at FMSC are under the age of 18!
After two hours of laughing, talking with the other volunteers, feeling the energy pumping throughout the warehouse, the music blasting, people feeling good about themselves for doing something GOOD, it was time to clean up. The packing volunteers had to clean up their whole area; we still continued to label the bags.
Mary told the volunteers to catch all the spilled grains from the table into a bin, and also all the grains on the floor should be swept up and put into a bin. All of that grain is given to a local farmer to feed his sheep! NOTHING is wasted!
After that was done all the volunteers were called into a corner by the packed boxes. Another worker said that we would say a prayer. He wanted us to pray that the boxes arrived safely to Haiti, for the drivers of the food, for the children and people receiving the food, and the volunteers who helped pack the food. A volunteer led us in prayer.
I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. Seriously.
After that we were told to return to the benches for a final speech.
Sue said, "In 2007 a survey was taken by (?) organization, and they found that 18,000+ children were dying DAILY from starvation. The survey was taken again this year, and the numbers have dropped to a little over 6,000. Again, still too many children are dying, but that is a great decrease from 2007." (I'm sorry I don't have the name of the organization, but I wasn't taking notes and this is all strictly from memory.)
She held up these two pictures of a little girl named Shamie.
The photo on the right (as you look at it) is Shamie at three years old. She is severely malnourished, weighing only 11 pounds! Her mother began walking 2 miles each way/4 miles round trip/ 6 days a week to get the food from the Haiti mission to feed Shamie. The second picture is Shamie just a mere 4 months later! Amazing results!
Speaking of amazing results, Sue said their goal is always to pack as many boxes as there are volunteers. On this particular day we had 59 volunteers. She asked, "How many boxes do you think you packed today? More than 59, right? More than 70? More than 100?"
She revealed the number:
A total of 132 boxes! She said that would feed 78 children - get this - FOR A YEAR!!!
This is a wonderful organization and if you can find the time, I would highly recommend that you volunteer. They have facilities in IL, MN, and AZ. But! Don't despair! They have mobile sites all over the United States! Check this website here to see if they are coming near you and VOLUNTEER! You will be so glad you did!
If you would just like to contribute money to this worthy cause, click here.
I am NOT getting paid to endorse this organization; I just feel this is such a worthy cause and I wanted to spread the word.
Also, this would be a great place to take boy scouts/girl scouts, church organizations, a family outing, etc.