NAPPANEE — It’s about serving together.
That’s how Nappanee Missionary Church’s Senior Associate Pastor Joe Focht described the current project happening on the church campus.
For 10 years now, the Nappanee Missionary Church has hosted Feed My Starving Children, a Christian non-profit organization that coordinates the packaging and distribution of food to people in developing nations.
“Multiple generations come together to work on this, having the same goal in mind,” Focht said. “In the divisiveness that we have here in our country, we put all that aside and come together to say, ‘It’s the kids that are most important and saving lives.’”
This year Focht said the is goal to produce 2 million meals for children in developing countries by Saturday afternoon.
It will cost $440,000 and the money for the project comes from all over.
Focht said the church even provides schools with coin sleeves to save quarters. Each meal costs roughly 20 cents, so students can help out by donating quarters to the cause.
Through the project, the church is also able to help with 70 regional food banks in the area during this time.
“We wanted to make sure that we were involved in something that was greater than ourselves,” Focht said. “For our people to think about the kids and think about the everyday struggles they face and for us to begin to understand it and do nothing, it wasn’t an option.”
Focht said when the church began its role in Feed My Starving Children’s campaign, 18,300 children were dying worldwide each year from starvation. By 2015, the number had been reported at 6,200.
“What happens on the receiving end of these meals is by far the most exciting thing,” he said. “Obviously the coolest part of this project is the lives we’re saving.”
One of many school groups to get involved is the Triton School Corporation. Students have been participating with project for six years now. Many of those on the senior leadership team at this year’s program are 12th-graders who began working with Feed My Starving Children in sixth grade.
“Part of our mission at the school is teaching kids to think of others before you think of yourself,” said Triton Superintendent Jeremy Riffle. “This just takes them out of theirselves and teaches them that there’s greater causes that are bigger than just us and together we can make an impact.”
When asked if he thought his students learned from the community service project, Riffle responded, “It’s better than not doing it.”
“This really, for me, is a two-part story,” Focht said. “It’s about the kids that will receive these meals in developing nations, but it’s also about a community – not just a church – coming together and working toward the same goal.”
Corporations, companies and business leaders are involved in the project as well, totaling in 7,200 volunteers for the Wednesday-through-Saturday service project.
“In the end, if we can take them (students) out of their environment, if we can continue to put structured ways to give back to people in front of them, it makes them a heck of a lot more likely to say I’m going to think of somebody over myself when I have the opportunity to make that decision,” the superintendent said.
“The more opportunities we can give them to put others before themselves, they’re more likely to do that on their own,” he added.