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What these young volunteers are thinking may surprise you

By Staff | Nov 14, 2009

Kids these days. What the heck are they thinking?

At an event held on Saturday, Nov. 7, I found out what some kids were thinking – and it might surprise you.

While the Women of Worth group was holding their Womens Expo in the gymnasium at Blue Earth Area High School, there was another activity going on in the Unity Hall commons area.

The Kids Against Hunger project was holding a ‘food pack’ activity. I was there as one of the Blue Earth Kiwanis Club members who had volunteered to help. But, of the 80-plus volunteers, most were high school age kids, or younger.

Melissa Anne of Winnebago is the person who brought the Kids Against Hunger program to this area, and we profiled her in a story in the Register a while back.

The concept is rather simple, yet grandiose in scope.

Funds are raised from donations and specific foods are bought in bulk, packaged a certain way, and then shipped overseas to some of the poorest countries in the world.

Every $50 in donations will furnish 216 meals to children who really need help.

On Saturday, an assembly line setup was used that is at the heart of the Kids Against Hunger method. One person holds a pre-labeled plastic bag under a funnel, while four others take turns putting in certain amounts of dried food – flavoring, vegetables, soy meal and rice. The bags are heat-sealed, then put into cardboard boxes, 36 bags at a time.

Each bag will weigh just four ounces. Yet, when it is poured into a pot of boiling water and cooked, it will be a meal for six hungry kids.

On Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., the volunteers bagged and boxed up over 16,000 meals.

The local kids – and the few adults with them – worked pretty steady in order to get it done.

There were high school kids from the National Honor Society. There were some sixth, seventh and eighth graders from Trinity Lutheran Church release time. There were girl scouts, some USC students and a few who just volunteered on the spot.

One girl from the Twin Cities was just visiting a friend in Blue Earth, and came to work. She said it was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

What? No sleeping in? No Saturday morning cartoons?

That is the thing. None of the kids whined about having to do this. None complained it was too hard, or too long. They seemed happy to be there.

Several said they wanted to help other kids who needed it. They had seen the Kids Against Hunger video (a prerequisite to being a worker is that one has to watch the video) and they knew where this food was going and that it was needed desperately.

Kids these days are aware of what is going on in the world – war, poverty, hunger – and there isn’t much they can do about it. After all, they are only kids.

But this Kids Against Hunger program gives them an opportunity to make a difference, and to actually physically reach out and help some other kids on the planet who need it.

One hard-working youngster said he knew there were kids in the world who don’t get enough to eat, and this food was going to help them. He felt pretty good knowing he made a difference.

Just to help them get familiar with what they were working on, Melissa Anne cooked one package of the food for the kids to taste. Some liked it, some were not so sure. Many were surprised one package would feed six kids.

“I’m glad we are doing this,” one girl said. “If they do this again I would like to help the next time, too.”

They will be doing it again. There is another pack scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend in Winnebago.

If you want more information about how you could help, either by volunteering or by making a cash donation, call Melissa Anne at 507-399-9880.

After all, if a bunch of kids can get excited over this program, so can us adults. You might find out kids are thinking a lot about making a difference in this world of ours. One bag of dried food at a time.