Volunteers pack over 32,000 meals for starving kids around the world

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) While many of us see MLK Day as a day off work, some people in Hastings used it as a day on to make sure no one goes to bed hungry.

More than 80 people with ten different organizations volunteered to put meals together for starving kids around the world. They started putting meals together around 10 a.m. Monday at the PEACE Center in Hastings. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday that's considered a national day of service. To participate, Hearts & Hands Against Hunger and the YWCA of Adams County teamed up for an event to pack meals for starving kids and their families around the globe.

More than 80 people with ten different organizations volunteered. They started putting meals together around 10 a.m. Monday at the PEACE Center in Hastings.

"A lot of us are really blessed that we get the day off from our regular responsibilities. It's just a great way to take advantage of the day and use it," said Sonia Klouse, assistant director of the YWCA of Adams County. "It's worth two hours of your day to really extend your reach."

The volunteers formed an assembly line in one of two rooms as they put the meals together by hand.

The packages contain 21 essential vitamins and minerals, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables and rice. Each one can feed six people, and has a shelf life of up to three years.

The packages are sent mostly to orphanages, schools and hospitals.

"I think we have so much to give in America and we can help so many people," said Jeanne Hastings, a volunteer with Hearts & Hands Against Hunger. "So many people are hungry, and don't even have a meal. This might be the only meal they have that day. If we can just make a difference in a child's life, we feel fortunate."

By the end of the day, the volunteers packed more than 32,000 meals. A truck with the Orphan Grain Train will pick up the boxes and bring them to Norfolk. From there, they'll be shipped all around the world.

Hastings said it's likely this batch will be sent to Haiti and the Philippines.

Everyone who works with Hearts & Hands is a volunteer. It costs the group about 23 cents to buy the raw ingredients, packaging and shipping for each meal. They do that with donations and grants.

If you'd like to make a donation or volunteer with the organization, you can call Hearts & Hands Against Hunger of Hastings at 402-460-8627. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 1293, Hastings, NE. 68902.