More than messages and songs on Sunday morning

First Posted: 8/25/2014

The Orange United Methodist Church does much more than provide its congregants opportunities to hear inspiring messages and sing uplifting Christian songs on Sunday mornings.

The little church nestled in the Back Mountain is attempting to reach the world, participating in the “Stop Hunger Now” effort, as a part of an international relief agency fulfilling a commitment to end hunger over the next 15 years.

At least 40 members of the church look forward to gathering on Saturday, Sept 13, to participate in the organization’s meal packaging program. Food will arrive at the church by truck bearing rice, soy, dried vegetables and nutritional packets. Volunteers will package the food items, carefully selected to provide a great deal of nutrition at a low cost, in boxes destined for poverty stricken areas around the world.

“We had an opportunity to participate in Tunkhannock United Methodist Church’s packaging program,” said organizer Jack Mokychic, of Orange, “and I came away thinking that our church could do that!”

Betty Mokychic especially enjoyed working beside her granddaughter, Madison, at the Tunkannock event, building a special bond while helping others. She, too, came back to her home church with a renewed vision for helping the less fortunate.

With the support of the pastor and church membership, organizers were able to make the vision a reality.

The church hopes to raise at least $3,000, but would be excited about raising more than that, making the packaging of more meals possible. Volunteers who will fill the church hall are ready and willing to complete the work. The more money raised locally and internationally, the more likely the vision of eliminating hunger will become a reality.

“It’s a relatively simple process with great benefit to many,” said Pastor Leslie Evans Halchak, Wyoming, “and it is consistent with the missionary emphasis of our church.”

Volunteers will have a prescribed task, resulting in packages adhering to the specifications of the organization in regard to weight and content. One volunteer might add soy to the packages, followed by the next adding rice. Although the process is a simple one, it addresses a pronounced national and global need.

The national organization estimates that a child dies from hunger every six seconds. With enough food produced worldwide to provide four pounds of food for every person on the globe, both the organization and the church are determined to make a difference, to insure no child goes to bed hungry at night. Volunteers on both a local and global level are hoping to turn hunger into hope.

Organizer Kay Love said, although hunger is a serious matter, she anticipates the event will bring a lot of laughter and spirit of fellowship to volunteers participating.

Love was introduced to the program during the Methodist church’s Susquehanna conference at which attendees participated at various times throughout the weekend. She was impressed at the willingness of her counterparts to participate at every opportunity.

Volunteers at the event are anticipated to be a cross-section of the church community, with both young and old doing whatever is necessary to make the event a success, ensuring a reprieve for hungry people throughout the world.

Love said members gained enthusiasm for the event after learning the Stop Hunger Now effort can accomplish so much in a short of amount of time.

The church and its members seek to benefit the community throughout the year, offering a Thanksgiving dinner to the needy and ongoing support for the Back Mountain food pantry.

The church also has a heart for missions, supporting missionaries to Haiti and Nicaragua, with creative fund raising that includes a special missions project during its annual Vacation Bible School

The organization bases its mandate on Proverbs 22:9: “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they shall share their food with the poor.”

Love and her husband, Richard, are missionaries to Haiti, traveling on a regular basis to assist those in developing countries.

“The Stop Hunger Now program provides a chance for our church members to truly be missionaries as well,” said Love, “with their efforts and energy benefiting others worldwide.”

Ten thousand meals will be prepared by ready hands in the church’s social hall following directives from the national organization, which allows for the most effective use of the time and energy of volunteers. They will then be distributed throughout the Unites States and to developing countries across the globe. Some meals will be shipped to school settings, with the added benefit of encouraging school attendance.

“All children learn better if they are well fed,” said Halchak.

The operation is extremely cost effective while simultaneously increasing awareness of global hunger and food insecurity issues around the world.

Working with vocational training programs, early childhood care centers, orphanages and medical clinics has given recipients the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, enhance skill development and provide health care services in conjunction with the disbursement of healthy foods.

The program also reserves 10% of its projected total meals to respond to crisis, including natural disaster and famine.

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