Assembling 75,000 meals in the span of a lot of volunteers, a whole batch of food and maybe even some Christmas cheer.
At least that was the recipe for success for Saturday's Food Party Packing Party North Naples Middle School. The event, the eighth organized by Hope for Haiti and Meals of Hope, attracted hundreds of volunteers to the school cafeteria to assemble tens of thousands of meals to Haiti.
JoAnne Kuehner, who founded Hope for Haiti three years ago, was one of the people volunteering to put meals together
“We take these kinds of things for granted, “she said of the meals.
The assembly process was deliberate. In went the flavoring packet, the beans, the soy, the vegetables, and the rice, last. Volunteers measured ingredients carefully, sealed the bags, and placed them on the lunchroom tables. When there were enough packaged meals, they were loaded into boxes and taped shut. Other volunteers came over, collected the boxes, and loaded them onto pallets.
Amid the chaotic hum of Christmas jingles, voices and the sounds of scooping, order prevailed, and the process moved along smoothly. Plenty of folks were wearing their holiday pajamas – the event was Christmas-themed, after all, and the occasional “whoop” went up when a box was filled.
Several sponsors groups attended the event, including Suncoast Credit Union and Vesta Property Services. Student organizations from Gulf Coast High School, attended the event, too.
It was important for a young Gulf Coast student Jeremy Saintyl to volunteer for the event because of Haiti, he said, and he wanted to help people. He also hopes to get more people involved, he said.
Girl Scout Troop 273 Leader Jennifer Irvan brought some of her scouts to volunteer at the event, including fourth graders Emma Kujawa and Aubrey Roberts. It is the third time the Troop has attended the event, Irvan said.
Kujawa said that it was not only that, but that it was “that you get to help other people that do not really have much food.”
Both Kujawa and Roberts said (19659003) Skyler Badenoch, Director of Hope for Haiti CEO, said the goal is “It was an easy way to help people out.
“What we're really trying to do about a problem and a challenge, and that's food insecurity,” he said.
Stephen Popper, CEO and President of Meals of Hope, said the event is a great way to inspire people to volunteer and help out.
“We love it,” he said.
Kuehner said volunteers walk away with a sense after the packing
“I think they feel good about themselves because they're doing something for someone else,” she said. “It's wonderful to watch.”