LANCASTER – An eight-year-old boy living in a malnutrition center had a distended stomach, off colored skin and weighed only 19 pounds. Six months after getting food from Feed My Starving Children, Omar gained 54 pounds, and his stomach and skin color are returning to normal.
Because of a year-long fundraiser in the Antelope Valley by local residents Jodi and Alan Jones, about 120,000 meals are going out to children like Omar.
Jodi Jones said she began by getting their church involved in an effort to raise $24,000 for Feed My Starving Children, the nonprofit organization that provides meals to starving children around the globe.
“Now Journey Church does not have an especially large membership, so raising $24,000 was a monumental challenge,” said Alan Jones. “Nonetheless, Dave (Elmore) and our church leadership took on the challenge.”
Through the church, Alan Jones said other community organizations such as Kiwanis, Quartz Hill MOMS Club and the Rotary Club also gave their support to the cause.
With the help of Desert Christian Principals’ Brian Roseborough and Devin Thomas, Jodi Jones said she got both the middle school and high school involved.
Roseborough said the students raised about $4,000 for the meals by bringing in quarters, selling Christmas wreaths and holding an auction.
“To hear that the $4,000 was going to translate into 16,000 meals for kids, the (students) really got excited,” Roseborough said.
The eighth grade class from Desert Christian Middle School (DCMS) was the first group to pack meals Friday morning at Journey Church. Other community members including the Rotary Club and Journey Church Youth also gave their time to pack food in other sessions.
The food packs, called MannaPack Rice, was scientifically made for malnourished children who are unable to digest regular food, said Alyssa Sianghio, who has worked at the Feed My Starving Children organization for the last year and a half.
Roseborough said he wanted his students to actually see what the money they raised would do, which is why he brought them to help pack the food.
Joseph Schirmeister, DCMS student, said as a Boy Scout he likes to help out the community.
“Doing something like this makes me feel way better,” he said.
Corrine Fish, who works at Journey Church, said she thinks it’s amazing for them to get to serve.
“In a two-hour period they’re going to reach all the way across the world,” Fish said.
Sianghio said the boxes packed Friday and Saturday will be sent to a warehouse, and shipped out from there.
As of right now, Sianghio said she doesn’t know where the boxes will be taken. She added that because Feed My Starving Children provides for 70 countries, the meals packed could potentially go anywhere.
Dakota Low, another DCMS student, said he was having a lot of fun with his Desert Christian friends and family.
During the packing, the students made a friendly competition of which group could pack the most chanting “we’re number one,” and dancing and singing to music blasting through the room.
“The students are really excited to serve,” Sianghio said. “You can tell they really want to be here.”
By the end of the first two-hour packing session, the middle school students packed 102 boxes, which will provide 22,030 meals for children, she said.
“Sixty is the number of kids who could receive a meal a day,” Sianghio said. “Sixty kids for a whole year.”
She added that the children who benefit from the food will enter a program where they and their families continue to receive food for as long as they need it.
“You change lives,” Sanghio said.