By NATALIE SHEPHERD
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WAUKESHA, Wisconsin (WDJT) — Church members, coworkers and college students recently came together with a huge goal in mind. Last year, RiverGlen Christian Church, with campuses in Waukesha and Pewaukee, packed 130,000 meals to ship to Central America.
This year– they wanted to break that record. Nearly 800 volunteers came together over two days last month to help, and their small contribution achieved big results.
The process to make the meals is simple.
“There’s the vitamins, the vegetables, the soy and the rice,” explained Colin Hattrick with Lifeline Christian Mission, the organization that distributes the meals.
All of the ingredients for a nutrient rich meal are poured into a funnel and into a bag. The bag is then sealed and ready to pack.
On that Friday evening, hundreds of volunteers streamed in to take part, picking up their hairnets and getting a quick tutorial in how the assembly line works.
This is RiverGlen’s second year organizing a massive meal pack.
“It’s going pretty good,” said volunteer Christina Ogunnubi. “We’ve packed about two and a half boxes so far.”
Ogunnubi and Kaitlyn Disalvo are two of 60 students from Carroll University who came to the church to help.
“I’ve been doing a couple of things. I’ve been doing the scaling and weighing everything, and then shipping it off to the sealing,” Disalvo said. “It’s super easy to do and it’s really fun, too.”
The volunteers aren’t just church members. They’ve come from all walks of the Waukesha community.
“We have a whole group from Old Navy who came in. They got all their coworkers together,” said organizer Amy Merz. “We’ve got so many schools involved. So, it’s really a community event.”
Everyone is able to pitch in and do their part. Hattrick travels the country to help put on events like this.
“The beauty of it is, all ages can participate. So you’ll walk around, you’ll see little kids here. You’ll see older people here,” he said.
They’re each doing a small part to achieve huge results.
“It takes a lot of manpower. Woman power! It take a lot of power,” Merz said enthusiastically.
Merz helped bring 780 volunteers together over two days to get it done.
“It really is a passion of mine. I love it. I love seeing people come together, and just to do something out of the goodness of their heart,” she said.
Once the meals are boxed, they’re loaded onto pallets. These meals destined for Panama and Haiti.
“In each country, they’ll use different spices, so it’ll taste a little different,” Hattrick said. “Sometimes they’ll make it more soupy. Sometimes they’ll make it a casserole.”
The goal was 140,000 meals. RiverGlen raised nearly 40-thousand dollars to pay for the project.
“I think sometimes people sit there and think, oh, I wish there was something I could do. Well, there is something you can do. It’s not hard,” Merz said.
The volunteers are giving, and getting something in return.
“What we have found is this– people at the heart of it have really been asking how they can get involved. How they can do more,” Merz said.
In the end, they accomplished their mission. The volunteers packed 143,208 meals during the two-day event.
“It gets them to be part of something bigger than themselves. They get to be part of serving around the world,” Hattrick said.
RiverGlen Christian Church is also donating money to Hebron House to buy new appliances for the Juno House shelter, and to the Waukesha Food Pantry. For more information, just visit riverglen.cc.
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By NATALIE SHEPHERD