State College

About 600 people gather at church to help feed the hungry

Georjanne Williams, left, and Leslie Laing seal bags of rice during the CityServe food packing project on Sunday at Calvary Church in Boalsburg.
Georjanne Williams, left, and Leslie Laing seal bags of rice during the CityServe food packing project on Sunday at Calvary Church in Boalsburg. psheehan@centredaily.com

It takes a special kind of person to wake up early on a Sunday morning to scoop buckets of rice and lentils — fortunately Calvary Church was able to get its hands on about 300 of them.

That meant securing nearly just as many hairnets, the vast majority of which were proudly on display in the mail-order packaging plant that appeared to have taken over the Boalsburg house of worship.

Weekend services had been canceled in observance of CityServe, a collaborative effort among local churches to get out and help the community through acts of kindness, which from a purely practical standpoint bear a uncanny resemblance to yard work and house painting.

This isn’t going to change the world but it’s going to make a difference in the lives of some people.

Pastor Dan Nold

Sunday’s project was coordinated with the help of Global Aid Network, a humanitarian organization based out of Mount Joy. Nearly 600 volunteers spread over two shifts helped to package 100,000 meals worth of rice and lentils bound for Jordan and Iraq.

“This isn’t going to change the world but it’s going to make a difference in the lives of some people,” Dan Nold, Calvary’s pastor, said.

Like many a meal, this one required a little bit of dough to get going. Calvary’s parishioners helped raise $29,884 of the project’s $33,333 price tag, splitting the difference — at least temporarily — with a hefty donation of time.

Kristin Reece pulled an early shift, arriving at the church about 7:30 a.m. so representatives from the Global Aid Network could teach her the most efficient way to sort, bag and seal grains.

A few hours later, once the hairnets were securely fastened, it was Reece’s job to pass those lessons on to the multitude of volunteers dispersed in stations of seven throughout the production room.

For folks that don’t know where their next meal is coming from its kind of a godsend.

Steve Baker

The step that produced the most anxiety was heat-sealing the finished bags.

“They say if there’s air in it, then it can explode and people won’t want to take it,” Reece said.

At the end of the process, the nonexplosive meals were placed 144 to a box and prepared for shipping.

Steve Baker, partnership projects coordinator with Global Aid Network, took the stage to thank the volunteers for their hard work. Earlier he had expressed his enthusiasm for the project and its impact — which is difficult to quantify lentil for lentil.

“For folks that don’t know where their next meal is coming from, it’s kind of a godsend,” Baker said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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