Volunteers pack 15,000 lifesaving meals

BROWNSTOWN — A Columbus, Ohio-based mission plans to pack 14 million meals this year to send to people in danger of starving to death around the world.

On Wednesday evening, about 70 volunteers contributed to the Lifeline Christian Mission cause by showing up at a Brownstown church to pack 15,000 of those meals.

The volunteers included many of the usual members and youth of Brownstown Christian Church, Associate Pastor Doug Pogue said while taking a break from helping pack the meals of rice, barley, vegetables and a vitamin mix.

“We have a bunch of new people here helping out,” Pogue said. “Faces I’ve never seen before.”

He said Wednesday is generally youth night at the church, and the meal packing takes the place of normal activities.

“They come out for this and invite their friends,” Pogue said. “It’s kind of a fun event that they normally don’t get to do.”

He said the church never has any trouble finding people to come and help out.

“We just announced last Sunday that we were doing this,” Pogue said. “They just showed up.”

Church member Dylan Mitchell, who participated in the event for the first time a year ago, said he returned because he found it to be really positive.

“It makes you feel good about what you’re doing,” the Brownstown Central High School student said.

Landrey Pace, 17, of Bedford was a newcomer.

Pace, who also attends Brownstown Central High School, said she found out about the event from a friend and decided to help out.

That friend, Brynn Burton, also invited a couple of other friends, including Audrey Scarlett, 17, of Brownstown and Taylor Smith, 15, of Brownstown.

Burton, who attends Brownstown Christian, said everything was going well.

Randy Blackburn, the logistics director for Lifeline, said a couple of weeks ago, volunteers in Lexington, Kentucky, packed about 1.2 million meals.

“People really get into it,” Blackburn said. “They like it when they know it is going to an immediate cause.”

Lifeline Christian Mission, which was established 43 years ago, also conducts other projects besides feeding those in need. The mission also does some medical clinics and starts churches and schools.

“The meal packing is needed because on average, about 25,000 people around the world die a day because of hunger,” he said. “So we’re making a small drop in the bucket.”

Pogue said it would take the tables of volunteers about two hours to pack the 15,000 meals into about 70 boxes, which would then be placed on a truck. It’s the same truck that carried all of the dried rice, vegetables, barley and vitamin mix to pack into bags that can feed six.

Blackburn said the food packed at Brownstown Christian Church may wind up in Haiti.

“We’re working on one for Thailand and Burkina Faso in western Africa,” he said. “We’ve already shipped a couple to Haiti and a couple to Honduras this year.”

Meals also have been shipped to Guatemala.

Pogue said his experience in Haiti occurred after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that killed about 220,000 people.

“I was down there after the earthquake, and this type of stuff is critical for people’s survival,” he said.

Pogue said the church started packing meals the year before not knowing that some of the food they packed might have been beneficial in that way.

“… and then we kind of kept this as an outreach mission of the church,” he said. “Lifeline is a great organization that we have worked with.”