Benita Park’s son, Kendall holds a finished package of Rise Against Hunger packaged meals. The volunteers met their goal of packaging 50,000 meals this year, 20,000 more meals than last year.
Photo by Colin Stoecker
“I want to show my kids community service by helping somebody else. It’s important, knowing you are making a difference in someone else’s life.” — Benita Parks, a U.S. government employee
Saturday was the Rise Against Hunger Drive at the First Baptist Church of Vienna. At the 11 to 1 shift, volunteers crowded a basement room wearing red hairnets. They packed small bags of rice with soy flour and spices for Rise Against Hunger to deliver overseas.
“I want to show my kids community service by helping somebody else. It’s important, knowing you are making a difference in someone else’s life. We always set aside the last Saturday in April for this,” said Benita Parks, a U.S. government employee.
Rise Against Hunger is a non-profit started by retired U.S. Marine and United Methodist Minister, Ray Buchanan. What started in 1998 as Stop Hunger Now became Rise Against Hunger, an organization dedicated to ending world hunger.
This is the second year that the First Baptist Church of Vienna has participated in the food drive with Rise Against Hunger. Last year, volunteers packaged about 30,000 meals for hungry people all over the globe. This year their goal was 50,000.
“This is one of our prize initiatives, it’s really watching faith in action,” said Senior Pastor, Dr. Vernon C. Walton. “We don’t always know where the meals are going, but we work with schools in Jacmel, Haiti. I’ve seen it in action when I traveled there. Sometimes this is the only meal these students get all day.”
Volunteer William Boykin, 70, a member of the church, jumped at the opportunity when he and his wife heard about the event. “My wife and I travel a lot and see the need. My wife works in Haiti, and this is our opportunity to give back.”
Alex Hart, the Assistant Community Engagement Manager from Rise Against Hunger stood up periodically to bang a gong after every 1000 bags had been packed. “It’s a great partnership, the gong is a motivator, but the volunteers all want to come here and do something good,” he said. “Anyone from age 2 to 91 can participate and it’s really a community event. The meals go to school feeding programs and help to keep kids in school.”
Learn more about ending world hunger at riseagainsthunger.org.