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Apple Valley seniors fight child hunger with other volunteers at Burnsville MobilePack

Over 10,000 south metro volunteers will pack 2 million meals

Around the world, 6,200 kids die every day of starvation. Charlie Maus thinks that even one hungry child is too many.

He’s been working with groups to end child hunger for eight years. Maus volunteers with an organization called Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) and brings along groups from the Apple Valley Senior Center.

Eight years ago, his son and granddaughter set up an FMSC session in Chanhassen. After hearing stories about hungry kids all over the world, Maus began researching the organization on his own. He became so passionate about the mission that he decided to organize his own FMSC group with other people at the Apple Valley Senior Center.

Every third Thursday of the month, a group of 20 to 40 seniors travels to the FMSC packing site in Eagan, located at 990 Lone Oak Road No. 136, to help prepare meals for hungry kids.

The group begins packing meals on-site at noon. To make transportation easier, some of the participants meet at the Apple Valley Senior Center at 11:30 a.m. and ride share over to Eagan. They pack for two hours and then return home.

Some of the volunteers stand and pack the dried chicken, vegetables, soy and rice into bags. Others sit and label each bag. People looking to get in a workout help in the warehouse by loading boxes of food.

During a 2-hour session, volunteers usually pack 216 meals each. FMSC board member Stewart McCutcheon predicts the group from Apple Valley has packed more than 600,000 meals over the past eight years.

Maus said he thinks it’s even more than that. Because his group volunteers so regularly, they are able to work together as a well-oiled machine to accomplish the task quickly. They are proud that they almost always pack more than the average volunteer.

“We’ve got a pretty hard-core group of people,” he said. “We’re pretty efficient at packing the meals, and we feel like we are connecting with kids who are literally starving.”

Although many groups sign up for a one-time FMSC packing event, Maus said it is important for his group to go every month because they want their efforts to be sustainable.

“If you give food to a starving child, that’s great,” Maus said. “But you need to give it to them for months, for years.”

McCutcheon said the organization appreciates the work of the seniors.

“We are so appreciative of the people who come in consistently,” he said. “The faithfulness of the group over the years has been amazing.”

He said the monthly commitment is an asset to the senior center’s packed calendar of events.

“The Apple Valley Senior Center has an amazing portfolio of services for their seniors,” McCutcheon said. “But we are grateful they go beyond that, and say: ‘we are not just here to help ourselves, we are here to help others.’”

A communal effort

The crew from the Apple Valley Senior Center will switch their schedule at the end of the month and travel to Burnsville to work a shift at the FMSC South Metro MobilePack.

From Monday, Jan. 29 to Saturday, Feb. 3, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville will host a massive meal packing event in its facility. Instead of asking volunteers to travel to the permanent packing sites, FMSC will bring meal packing equipment to the church.

This is just one of four MobilePack events around the Twin Cities. In total, 35,000 volunteers will pack an estimated 6 million meals for hungry children around the world at these events.

The South Metro MobilePack alone will require 10,000 volunteers and $500,000 to pack 2 million meals over the course of the week.

Dawn Ridgeway is heading up the South Metro event. Although the MobilePack has been held at the former Rainbow Foods building in Apple Valley for the past two years, it will return to Prince of Peace this year. Ridgeway said they are preparing to clear out the sanctuary and community room so there will be space for all of the equipment and volunteers.

“It’s quite an undertaking to adjust and, in essence, remodel that portion of our building to be able to accommodate,” she said.

Volunteers from 19 partner congregations, as well as several school groups, sports teams, community groups and other volunteers from south of the river communities will come together to disrupt childhood hunger.

“It’s a great way to get the community out and participating in work that will ultimately save children’s lives,” McCutcheon said.

Experienced FMSC volunteers and people who’ve never heard of the organization are all invited to help pack the food and make donations.

“It is a wonderful starting point for families and people of all ages to experience the joy of giving back,” Ridgeway said. “It’s a true, hands-on feeling of accomplishment that you’re helping to do good in the world.”

People interested in donating or registering to volunteer at the South Metro MobilePack between Jan. 29 and Feb. 3 can visit www.popmn.org/mission/fmsc.

People looking to learn more about Feed My Starving Children can visit www.FMSC.org.

People seeking more information about volunteering each month with Charlie Maus and his group from the Apple Valley Senior Center can call the center at 952-953-2345.

Contact Amy Mihelich at amy.mihelich@ecm-inc.com.

Article source: https://www.hometownsource.com/sun_thisweek/community/apple-valley-seniors-fight-child-hunger-with-other-volunteers-at/article_1d94ebe8-f644-11e7-a9b2-63f998526b95.html

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