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Tuesday October 28, 2014 Edition
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Feed My Starving Children And Volunteers Packs Meals For Children Overseas

1400 volunteers in Addison and Chittenden County packed 363,636 meals to send overseas to children in need.
photo by Annette Carter
1400 volunteers in Addison and Chittenden County packed 363,636 meals to send overseas to children in need.

Tuesday October 28, 2014

By Cookie Steponaitis

Three years ago six Chittenden County women sat together in a book club and were invigorated by the book Radical by David Platt. Determined to be involved in something that would count and help, the group pondered how six retired women in Chittenden County Vermont could achieve this goal. Two of the women had gotten emails concerning a non profit Christian organization called Feed My Starving Children that was committed to feeding children in body and spirit. Under the vision of two of the women, Dodie Thon and Karen Lawrence, the group moved into action.
    Feed My Starving Children develops and provides nutritional food in bulk quantities to volunteer groups around the world. These volunteers raise the funds necessary to pay for the food and provide the organization of the vast amounts of volunteers who bag and pack the meals. Each meal costs a stunningly simple 22 cents. In its third year in the Champlain Valley, the women spend the year raising the funds to reach their goals and organizing the hundreds of volunteers necessary for the assembling, packing and shipping of the meals. On October 17th & 18th the gymnasiums of both Mount Abraham Union High School and A.D. Lawton School were testimonies to the power of motivated people, bent on making a change.
     Addison County group member Barbara Kohler shared, “The first year our goal was to raise $22,000, which purchased the makings for 100,000 meals. It took all year and 300 volunteers, but we met our goal. The second year we decided to set our sights on filling an overseas shipping container which contained 260,000 packed meals and we raised $60,000 to achieve that. This year we wanted to feed 1,000 children for a year or 363,636 meals for a total fundraising goal of $80,000. While we are still reaching toward that goal, the meals were all packaged and shipped.
    When Kohler speaks of the group who meet once a month and have evolved into a planning team of 12-20 people there is a passion and power in her voice. “I truly believe that this offers Vermonters to have an effect on hunger with their own hands and in two hours of work,” Barbara shared. “Feed My Starving Children partners with relief organizations in seventy countries and they live with the refugees and see the needs. Each meal packaged here in Vermont goes directly to a child. “With hundreds of volunteers involved each year, Kohler is delighted to share that each year brings in new people to help.
    People interested in helping raise the funds or being one of the hundreds of hands that pack food with love are asked to contact Fred Kenney, the head of the event through his website, Joined in a common mission of bringing health and hope to starving children around the world, Kohler and her team are already energized and at work on fundraising and planning for the year ahead. Volunteer Annette Carter commented on her experience packing, “It is an amazing event and one that is planned for all year. People come from all over Vermont.”  With 92 % of all donations going directly to the food for the children, Feed My Starving Children is an organization to support and Kohler and her friends an example of how passion and tenacity can help people to effect hunger with their own hands.

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