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Above: The group’s organizer, Duane, pictured with Feed My Starving Children’s CEO/Executive Director Mark Crea.
“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” –Tanzanian Proverb
The Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park, Minn. hit a big milestone this week.
After faithfully packing twice a month for eight years, the group hit 2 million meals! That’s about 5,479 kids fed for an entire year!
This group is a beautiful reminder that each person, each scoop of rice, each meal packed matters.
Knowing that this church is one of many across the country at MobilePack™ events and permanent sites faithfully packing meals each day is a mind boggling thought. You truly are the hands and feet of Christ!
Duane, the organizer, said he’s humbled to reach this number because the church has come together in this commitment to support Feed My Starving Children.
“A hungry child makes me cry,” he said when asked why they keep coming back. “FMSC can take a skin and bones kid and make them fat and sassy!”
With tears in his eyes, he recounted Jesus’ words from Matthew 25 to the group:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
They celebrated with cake and fellowship in the lobby of our headquarters:
Thank you for your faithfulness, St. Vincent de Paul!!
Bethany Brandvold is a full time team leader at Feed My Starving Children’s Eagan site. She began at FMSC in July of 2015 and thinks she has the coolest job in the world. This story is one of the reasons why:
This spring, multiple buses from Billings West High School in Montana, filled with band, choir and orchestra students, arrived at our Eagan site.
A group of 155 students and teachers filed off their buses eager to change the world. I had the blessed opportunity to open for the group and could feel the excitement the instant they arrived. Not one person came without a willing heart to serve.
During the session there were shouts and squeals of joy every time a box was packed. Our office staff even heard their enthusiasm and found themselves needing to walk over and see what was happening! Students were encouraging one another to pack faster, faster and faster! They knew kids needed to be fed and they wanted to be the ones to feed them.
God was in that room. I got chills as I saw the smiles on their faces, knowing that the good they were doing today would translate into a beautiful future. Kids feeding kids is an amazing sight, and I am grateful that every day I get to witness God’s people being the hands and feet of Christ.
As their session came to a close and they all returned to the orientation room, I could feel the continued high energy, but I also sensed that God had something more in store for these students. I shared with them that they had packed 246 boxes.
There were cheers and shouts as they had all packed more then they expected, more than we as a staff had expected. We needed those boxes and they delivered!
God blessed us that day, as he does every day with amazing volunteers to help us reach our goals.
As I shared stories of the many lives volunteers have changed, and shared with them that they too are doing the same, tears started to swell in the room. I finished my orientation encouraging the kids to continue to be a part of what we do here, by going to the MobilePack that would be happening in Billings, Montana a few weeks from then, but also through donating and fundraising.
The group at the beginning of the session had brought in a donation of $602.00, in which they were able to feed seven kids for a year.
The teacher had wanted to draw names to receive the donation T-shirts for every $50 dollars that they had donated. After she had done so, she shared something amazing that I will never forget.
As tears welled in her eyes, she looked at the numbers on the screen, seeing the 246 boxes, but also seeing the 145 kids that were fed through their efforts.
She shared that there was one student that had not been able to come on the trip due to sickness, but that had she come they would have fed one kid per student. There were 144 kids in the room that day, and each of them had fed a child for an entire year.
Immediately there were loud shouts, kids springing from their seats with excitement, tears around the room of proud students and parents, I myself got teary eyed. The Holy Spirit was moving in the room!
These students had changed so many lives and they knew it was cause for celebration, and celebrate they did. There were students all over connecting with staff, both Team Leaders and office staff who had come to see what was happening. They were sharing their excitement, talking about how they were going to continue to help FMSC after leaving their session.
One student by the name of Layne came up to me asking if it was possible for him and some friends to do a video game tournament to raise money. Again, God was so vividly at work.
Just the day before, an FMSC blog post about students conducting a video game fundraiser had been published. I immediately printed out the blog and gave it to Layne explaining that it was possible. Inspired, he brought it back home and the wheels started to turn.
A week or so later, I received an email from Layne stating that he and his friends would be following through with the game tournament and he was looking for advertising resources and literature. Not only did they want to fundraise money for FMSC, but they also wanted to educate and encourage people to experience it for themselves at the upcoming mobile pack. They hosted the tournament in which they fundraised just over $500!
Layne and his friends saw a very real need during their packing session and didn’t want to let the last impact that they had be left in Minnesota. They took their collective passion, shared it within their community and changed lives.
It was a true example of finding a simple way to help others simply live!
Each packing session is a gateway for amazing individuals to do amazing things. It is so beautiful to see God working, not only in the lives of the children we feed, but also in the many volunteers who fully give of their hearts every time they are here.
We would cease to exist if it weren’t for our volunteers who give of their time selflessly to give the gift of life. It is mountain moments like this that continue to remind us just how big our great God is!
Above: Photo by Genevieve Nisly Photography
Kristen and her now-husband, Mike, love Feed My Starving Children so much that they made us part of their wedding!
They gave out favors that included an FMSC M&M tube* and a USB drive with a personal video for their guests telling them about FMSC. The drive also had our “Hunger to Hope” video.
“We told them a little about FMSC and how much we have enjoyed volunteering for MobilePack™ events together,” Kristen said. “We were pleased to be able to give something to our guests that they would enjoy, along with the opportunity to give back if they chose.”
Kristen first heard about FMSC during the famine crisis in Somalia in August 2011.
“It broke my heart to hear how many children under age 5 had died from hunger that summer,” she said.
She looked into how Joyce Meyer Ministries was helping, and found out that ministry was partnering with FMSC.
“When I saw that your organization could get healthy food into the hardest to reach places because you worked with people who lived and worked in these communities, I thought it was such a successful and solid plan to get what was most needed to the people who desperately needed it,” she said.
Kristen has struggled for more than a decade with a disabling chronic illness (which is now improving!), so FMSC was a way for her to contribute and feel like she was making a difference, she said.
She and Mike did their first packing event in the summer of 2013, and even with her limited energy, she was able to sit and label bags.
“I was surprised by how the event ended up blessing me — I met a woman at the labeling table who had been through a lot of pain and could tell I had been through a lot as well. She prayed for me, and we both walked away so encouraged afterward,” Kristen said.
The couple has returned to pack two other times since then at local events.
“It’s rewarding to spend such a small amount of time working as a team with other believers to make a big practical impact for hurting people in the name of Christ,” Kristen said.
So far, at least $90 in donations has been returned from the M&M tubes!
Thank you Kristen and Mike!
*We call our M&M tubes “Mission Money.” Purchase a tube of M&M’s, enjoy the chocolate, and then fill the tube up with quarters. Send your donation back to FMSC and you will have raised enough money to feed 63 children for a day! A little bit goes a long way. This is a great way to fundraise for an event or to give as a birthday favor for your party!
Marie’s three-week old son, St. Luk, had spiked a fever of 103. He was really struggling. She had been feeding him bread porridge or plantain mush—it was all she had—but she didn’t have any hope for his survival. She thought he would die.
Marie brought him to one of FMSC partner Children’s Health Ministries’ clinics in Haiti. They encouraged her to breastfeed so St. Luk could receive the nutrients he needed to stay healthy.
She rolled her eyes. She had no way to do that. Some days she ate nothing. Some days she only had a little bread and coffee. She couldn’t even find enough food to feed herself. How was she supposed to produce enough milk to feed her baby?
CHM asked Marie if she was able to eat healthy meals, would she commit to breastfeeding St. Luk? After several moments of silence, as if deciding whether this could actually be true and actually work, she agreed.
CHM gave Marie FMSC meals to take home. That day, she returned to her tiny one-room home in the foothills of the mountains above Carrefour, Haiti, with a glimmer of hope. Perhaps her son would live.
Eight months later, St. Luk weighed 18 pounds! He was now very healthy because Marie had done such a great job of breastfeeding him.
“I believe God sent you with this food to help families like mine that are struggling,” Marie said. “I feel much better about myself now that I am better able to provide more food for my family. Thank you very much.”
Marie accepted Jesus into her heart. CHM says, “It has been great watching Marie transform from a dejected, tired woman who thought she was going to lose her baby to a happy, glowing woman who is proud of her son and his health.”
St. Luk is a very energetic baby! He is learning to walk and likes to say “mama.”
This is the change YOU make through donating your time and resources to FMSC.