Packing Hope: Local Event Aims to Send 150,000 Meals to People in Need
April 11, 2019 5:26 PM
by Geoff Rushton
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An event being hosted later this month in Boalsburg will have the goal of packing 150,000 meals and 22,500 seed packages to send to Middle Eastern refugees.

Calvary Harvest Fields, 150 Harvest Fields Drive, will host PackHope on April 28. PackHope is an initiative of the humanitarian nonprofit Global Aid Network (GAiN). 

All meals packed are designed to provide essential vitamins and minerals and are sent to Middle Eastern refugees who have little or no access to food and housing, often facing malnutrition. The seed packets, meanwhile, will be used to plant community gardens to help increase food security.

The church organized a PackHope event in 2017, but this year set a bigger goal.

"We like to dream big," said Courtney Reese, a Calvary staff member who is coordinating the local effort with GAiN.

The big goal, however, means more volunteers are needed. Volunteer Ruth Rieck said about 750 people are needed to staff two-and-a-half hour shifts between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and plenty of slots are still open.

"It’s a family-friendly activity. For School-age kids, there’s certainly something they can participate in," Rieck said.

Donations are also needed. GAiN arranges to bring in the food for packing and the participating organization raises money to buy the food at wholesale prices. Rieck said that three meals can be packed for $1 and seed packages for 25 cents.

"It’s very cost effective and we’re getting a very good deal on the food," Rieck said.

"Any money donated goes straight to our project," Reese added. "It doesn’t go to pay staff or anything like that. It’s strictly for the PackHope experience and the meals that go overseas."

Donations can be made and volunteers can sign up online at Reese said individuals or groups can sign up to volunteer and when they arrive will be assigned to a station for a particular duty during their time slot. After the food and seeds have been packed, GAiN takes them and ships them overseas.

In addition to the 750 volunteers who will be needed to achieve the goal, Rieck said another 50 will be on hand all day to coordinate the event. They'll also have a training the day before, and several local businesses, including both State College Walmarts, Jersey Mike's, Trader Joe's and Giant on East College Avenue, have made donations for food and water for those volunteers who will be there the whole time.

PackHope is part of Calvary's CityServe weekend on April 27-28, a partnership among several local churches to volunteer throughout the community.

"CityServe is where we go out in the community and work on projects, just make the community better and spread love," Reese said.

Rieck said that she was inspired when she and her family participated in Calvary's PackHope two years ago.

"I felt like I needed to be a part of it," she said. "I participated as a volunteer two years ago and really saw the importance of what we were doing, so I wanted to be more involved."

For questions, contact [email protected].

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