"It's really cool that we can help other people in need," remarks Gabe Hein when reflecting on the Feed My Starving Children program.
Gabe, his twin brother Zack and their mother and father, Danielle and Roger, recently helped pack food at the Feed My Starving Children warehouse in Eagan.
The Heins were four of about 15 locals from Blooming Prairie who traveled to Eagan to familiarize themselves with the project that is coming to First Lutheran Church in Blooming Prairie as a mobile pack on Friday and Saturday, May 10-11.
The Hein twins, seventh graders, will be joined by older sister McKenna and their parents in working the Blooming Prairie mobile pack on May 10-11.
The Blooming Prairie volunteers helped pack meals with others in a 90-minute time period. They packed enough meals to last 138 kids for a year.
Pastor Mike Walerius of First Lutheran Church said the goal of the Blooming Prairie community project is to pack 101,000 meals in two days and send them to the needy in all parts of the world.
FMSC is a Christian non-profit that provides nutritionally complete meals specifically formulated for malnourished children. Its mission is feeding God’s starving children hungry in body and spirit.
Donations fund the meal ingredients and volunteers hand-pack the meals. The meals are donated to FMSC food partners around the world, where kids are fed and lives are saved.
Other youths who went to Eagan in February were Maddie Walerius, Josh Walerius and Kolby Vigeland. Adults making the trip were: Danielle Hein, Roger Hein, Michelle Vigeland, Pastor Mike, Tiffany Walerius, Cheri Krejci, Michelle Southworth, Jen Wayne and Deb Lindquist.
"Feeding others is just something we wanted to do," said Zack. Prior to packing meals, the group watched a video and was outfitted with gloves and hair nets.
The food consists of rice, soy proteins, dried vegetables and vitamin-packed flavoring.
Volunteers place one scoop of the prepared food into a small bag, weigh it and seal it. When sealed, each bag weighs one pound. The food bags are then boxed for delivery.
"Nobody sits around, everybody is doing something," Zack pointed out. "This group is very organized," Danielle agreed.
The Heins were told that the needy children in locales like Haiti, Guatemala and the Philippines eat one cup of food per day.
"It was fun to see the video which showed how happy the children are when getting the food," said Zack.
Volunteers also had the chance to sample the special food. "It was plain and really had no taste," commented Gabe. "It's almost like an oatmeal," Danielle interjected.
The working atmosphere is one of fun, the Hein twins said. They said music play lists were elected and competition was also welcomed between teams, seeing who could pack the most food in the shortest amount of time.
Following the work detail, the Heins stopped at Culver's for a more substantial meal. "We were told that these undernourished kids we were helping could not eat what we eat at Culvers because of the quantity," said Zack.
"We were told that in America, we throw away 10 percent of our food," Gabe informed.
The Hein boys said posters have been circulated at school promoting the May 10-11 community project. They expect many of their friends to join them in volunteering at First Lutheran.
The upcoming Blooming Prairie project will require about 90 per shift and around 500 overall.
Anyone caring to help with this community project is asked to contact First Lutheran Church, St. Columbanus Catholic Church, Holy Trinity Catholic Church of Litomysl and Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church of rural Austin.
Fundraising continued last week with FMSC volunteers working for tips at Pizza Ranch in Austin. The workers made $946.