A volunteer blesses a package as the meals come down her line to be boxed at Catholic Relief Services’ Helping Hands project at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. (CNS photo/Carley Mossbrook)
By Carley Mossbrook
PHILADELPHIA — Rows of tables lined an exhibit hall in the Pennsylvania Convention Center as volunteers scrambled to assemble their families along the room’s perimeter. Tiny hands grabbed for scoops plopped in boxes of rice, while older hands opted for seal-and-pack positions near stacks of cardboard boxes.
Hundreds of volunteers visiting the World Meeting of Families suited up with plastic gloves and hairnets and braced themselves for the work that laid ahead.
And with the strike of a gong, their hands were off. They scooped, poured, sealed, and packed at a pace that pushed them to their goal in just under an hour: to pack 40,000 meals for the hungry.
Richard Armenia plastic-wrapped the filled boxes to send off to Burkina Faso as volunteers reached the one-hour mark of Thursday’s Helping Hands event. (CNS photo/Carley Mossbrook)
“The people overseas that are in these dire circumstances know that they are not lost and know that they are not forgotten,” said Sean Callahan, chief operating officer of Catholic Relief Services, said. “And the fact that we show here today that we care about these people will really give them the resilience so that they can keep fighting.”
Helping Hands, a three-day service event led by Catholic Relief Services, will cumulatively provide 200,000 meals to two orphanages in Burkina Faso, said Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. operations. Volunteers from 32 states in the U.S. have offered an hour of their day to pack the meals of rice, soy and vegetables to send to families suffering from an ongoing drought.
Young volunteers ran the packaged food to boxing stations where other volunteers would pack and seal the boxes for shipment to Burkina Faso. (CNS Photo/Carley Mossbrook)
During the one hour session, the energy in the room brought smiles and sweat to the faces of volunteers diligently working among their families, pausing only to belt out the words to “Sweet Caroline” and to share a high-five after completing another box.
Father Brian Kane, the dean at Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, cut strips of tape to pack boxes as he and Jacob Sanderson, of Sandy, Utah, chatted over their work.
“It’s really moving to think that what we’re doing here is going to help hungry people in Africa,” (Read More)