Inspired by a January effort in which it assembled 108,000 nonperishable boxed meals for the hungry, Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene is thinking bigger.
This time, in an effort that began Wednesday and continues through Saturday, the goal is to put together 250,000 meals.
The so-called MobilePack event is sponsored by Feed My Starving Children, a Tempe-based nonprofit that collects the food and partners with other groups to send it all over the world.
Dick Egolf, the church’s missions president, said the response from members and others in the community inspired him to shoot higher.
“The January event was just exceptional,” he said. “We had such a good response that we decided to more than double our effort. We want more than just our church people to be involved. It’s a community-wide effort.”
As many as 1,200 volunteers will gather at the Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene, 500 W. Calle Concordia
Kids ages 5 and up are welcome to help their parents, and the church is offering child care for younger kids during the Saturday morning shift. Egolf said there is something to do for people of nearly all ages and ability levels.
“If you can’t stand, we have jobs they can do sitting down,” Egolf said, adding that the volunteer effort fits with the church’s religious and community-oriented philosophies.
Feed My Starving Children doesn’t determine where the meals will go in advance, but takes the packages and finds the best fit for them afterward. January’s MobilePack meals went to the Philippines.
Matt Young, an engineer and church volunteer who is helping organize the event and plans to work there along with his wife, Jamie, said it was eye-opening to take part in January’s MobilePack.
“It was the first time we had ever been to an event like that, and it was really just amazing how much we were able to get done in such a short period of time,” Young said. “It inspired me to want to be more involved.”
Young said he believes he’s motivated to help Feed My Starving Children because he respects the
organization and believes in its mission.
“The organization is one of the best charities out there,” he said, citing the nonprofit’s figures of spending 93 percent of the money it receives on food. “Each meal only costs 22 cents to produce and they get it out to the people that need it. That’s the reason why all of the packing is done by volunteers — to keep the overhead low.”
Egolf said that although the work is in the style of an assembly line, the camaraderie makes for a good time.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We have eight stations that you work at in teams. We try to get some competitions going, and every time they finish a box of 32 meals, there’s a team cheer. There’s continuous music playing. The two hours go by so fast that the main comment I get after a shift is done is ‘Can we keep going? I want to keep going.’”
Young said the reward for volunteering comes in the work itself.
“You’re always doing different things and moving around,” he said. “Everybody’s having a good time.”