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Neighboring youth groups do 30-hour famine for hunger

With tsunami victims in mind, 23 teens and adults from the Benton City United Methodist Church recently participated in a 30-Hour Famine to raise funds for World Vision, which will go for tsunami relief and to feed hungry children.

Benton City

Benton City teens crowd in bus.

In the 30 hours, participants did service projects that required energy. 

They went to older people in the congregation and neighborhood and raked leaves left from the fall, chopped firewood and did other yard work.  Some also shopped in a grocery store for food for the food bank.

They helped clean out the storage shed for the church’s preschool, put away Christmas costumes and spent three hours cutting out 100 paper dolls, which they sold for $1 each—representing the $1 a day it takes to feed one child for one day, said Julie Close, one of the youth leaders.

Several said they felt “weak-legged” by the time they finished their project, she said.

Andy Wangler, a member of the Rock UMC group in Selah, noted:  “When we were allowed to eat again, we were served what a starving victim would get: a bowl of UN-IMIX.”

That is a nutritional meal World Vision devised to feed starving people. It consists of three parts of maize, four parts of beans, one part of oil, one part of powdered milk and one part of sugar.

 “We didn’t tell them they would eat that, so it had more impact,” Julie said.  “It’s hard to imagine partaking of this mix, but most of the teens and leaders tried it.

People in many poor countries line up to be fed this meal and they feel lucky,” she continued.  “This was an eye-opener for us.”

“We also learned that the most precious gift—like gold to many in the world—is clean water.  Many have no access to clean water or have to walk miles for it,” added Julie, who started the Pathfinders youth group three years ago as her three sons were in or entering junior or senior high.

The youth gathered the last Friday evening of January, ate pizza and reviewed the rules before staying overnight at the church.  At 5 a.m., some arose for breakfast, but those who slept until 6 a.m. when the fast began, had nothing to eat.

Saturday evening, the youth wanted to play games after devotions, but leaders wanted them to realize that each day—by midnight—29,000 children die of hunger.  So the youth and leaders each took 1,500 steps, to total 29,000, to help them gain a concept of that number.

“That also helped youth become aware of how privileged they are and that some people do not have a roof and three meals but only have one meal a day,” she said.

Last year the youth at Benton City UMC joined youth at Grandview in a 30-Hour Famine.

This year, youth from United Methodist churches in Selah and Riverview in Pasco joined in the Benton City famine.  Next year they will choose another community to host it, with the goal of having it be a district-wide event.

The famine raised $1,098, which Julie said is enough to feed 21 children for a year.  World Vision matches every $360 raised, so they could feed six more children, Julie said.

“The 30-Hour Famine has impact not only on the youth but also on the congregation, helping them realize that the youth do have compassion for others, Julie said.

“I thought helping people who couldn’t help themselves was rewarding and I felt good raising funds to feed starving kids in the world, because I was saving lives.  That was what this was all about,” said Zack Clouse, one of Julie’s sons.

A Selah youth, Holly Ray, found it meaningful to be part of a group of seven moving wood for an elderly woman:  “She appreciated it so much.  It was touching the way she reacted to us doing that for her.”  Even though the group lacked energy, she said, it was “great to know we had helped someone other than ourselves and that she appreciated it.”

Another Benton City youth, Courtnie Howell, noted that when she first heard about the project she considered it “another challenge from God.”  The experience made her better appreciate what she has and made her want to help others in the world.

When her mother took her out to eat after the famine ended she remembers thinking:  “Great! Food!  Thank God!  I’m starving!”  Then she thought of the children who think the same when they do have some food or clean water.

The week after they did the famine, the youth raised $800 through a Sunday evening luau.

From 10 to 25 youth attend Pathfinders Sunday evenings, Julie said.

For information call 587-3319.

By Mary Stamp, Fig Tree editor - Copyright © March 2005