More than 150 volunteers helped pack 40,000 meals to send to families in need across the world Saturday at Scotus Central Catholic High School.
The event was coordinated in conjunction with Cross Catholic Outreach’s “Youth vs. Hunger” campaign, which provides opportunities for Catholic churches and young Catholic people across the country to serve their communities and world. Representatives from CCO were at Scotus helping to organize the event alongside the Columbus Squires, a group that also provides opportunities for young people to serve in Columbus and afar.
“We emphasize service and (try) to help out the community where we can,” said Columbus Squires member Brent Melliger.
He said that organizers didn’t know exactly where the meals would be sent, only that they will be sent where they are most needed.
“It might be Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti (or) the Dominican Republic,” Melliger said. “It depends on where they’re needed. In four or five months, they’ll tell us where they went.”
Cross Catholic Outreach works in 41 countries, providing people with services that they sorely need to live. Gus Cruz, a volunteer coordinator for CCO, said that they wanted to mobilize Catholics not just in Columbus, but throughout the world in helping others and providing compassion where it’s needed.
“Our organization is what you would call a ‘compassionate ministry’,” Cruz said. “We’re not just wanting to tell people Jesus loves them, but we want to alleviate the needs physically. We help over 300 projects with providing food, medicine, clean water, shelter (and) education. We try to help as many countries (as possible) that we have relationships with.”
The “Youth vs. Hunger” campaign allows CCO to collaborate with parishes and schools like Scotus in providing meals all across the world. Those meals were packaged in an assembly-line fashion. Vitamin packs were provided first before any food went into the specialized bags. Then, a soy protein was put in the bag, followed by beans, vegetables and finally rice, before the bags were sealed and placed in boxes to be sent to countries far and wide.
Cruz noted that the content of the meals is important, as giving a starving child a steak may not be a good idea.
“Each bag has about six meals,” Cruz said. “This is not just to stop hunger, but bring them back to a healthy state. Unfortunately, some of these kids haven’t eaten in days. If we give them a steak, it’ll hurt their stomach. We can’t give them a burger, it’ll do more damage than good.”
For the bleary-eyed youngsters who came to pack meals, Cruz wanted them to learn about service and about becoming good people who serve their community, their state and their world.
“I think it’s going to help these children to do something that’s bigger than themselves,” Cruz said. “You have three generations at each work station, so we want to bring the community together to be able to do something that’s bigger than themselves, which is to show the love of Jesus by feeding the poor (and) helping those that are less fortunate.”
Melliger said he also wants the kids to learn about service and about caring for those who may not have access to the luxuries that they take for granted.
“We’re hoping that the kids get a sense of helping out the less fortunate, helping out the people who don’t have much,” Melliger said. “We’re just hoping to get a lot of meals packed.”
Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.