Nonprofit agency, volunteers team up to feed people in Third-WorldImpact Lives volunteers were right on track Saturday morning as they packed meals for starving people all over the world.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
Impact Lives volunteers were right on track Saturday morning as they packed meals for starving people all over the world.
By the end of the first shift, they packed 400 boxes, which equals 87,000 meals. Volunteers reached the ultimate goal of 340,000 meals Saturday.
“We could have packed more, but we had to cut off an hour early because earlier shifts packed so much faster,” said Deb Weitala, one of the organizers. “We had everything done and cleared out by 4 p.m.”
Impact Lives is a nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis that packs nutritious meals for people in Third-World countries. The packs include soy, rice, mineral, vitamin, dry vegetables and fats.
The group also had the pleasure of watching the millionth meal packed by the Mitchell effort.
“I’m totally humbled how one idea ended up a million meals,” Weitala said.
However, the group is still short $25,000 of the $85,000 goal to cover the costs of the meals. Weitala is confident the community will come forward to provide for the total once again.
More than 1,200 people signed on to help Saturday at the third annual event that started Impact Lives’ success.
“I consider us the flagship,” Weitala said.
So far, the Mitchell effort for Impact Lives has provided a half million meals for Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic. Total, Impact Lives has provided 50 million meals worldwide. Ramon Patrono, president of Impact Lives, said the Mitchell event is inspiring, calling it the “best and well-organized event.”
Patrono was particularly pleased with how many children helped pack because it is an encouraging sign that the younger generation sees a need to give back.
Impact Lives has become a huge success in Mitchell, drawing support from young, old, families and service groups. Families had a strong pres- ence Saturday as Mitchell volunteers packed for the third year. Alexis Kerr brought her four children to the event to pack meals.
“It shows them how to give back to others who don’t have what we have,” she said.
Her children, Nolan, 9, Hope, 10, Miah, 11, and Heather, 13, enjoyed themselves, laughing and singing along with music as they packed meals.
“It gives them an opportunity to serve,” Kerr said.
Several students from L.B. Williams Elementary School packed Saturday with inspiration from Rylan Bruns, a third-grader. He invited many friends and students to give back to their community. Lori Jones, a special education paraprofessional at L.B. Williams, said students from about 10 teacher’s classrooms attended the event.
“Kids are starving for family time,” she said. “Here, they can come together for someone else. I think there’s a great blessing in that.”
Other youths also participated in the event like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and church youth groups.
The meals packed Saturday will not only impact countries in crisis like Haiti and Japan, but will also impact the lives of those in need here in the U.S. Meals will be sent to the local Salvation Army, Crow Creek Reservation and a group called Mission Haiti in Sioux Falls.
Next year, Weitala and Patrono hope the schools in Mitchell incorporate Impact Lives in the classroom. Patrono said instructors would come prior to the packing event in May to train staff and students in geography, diversity and cross culture relating to how Impact Lives helps others.
“I know a lot of people who would like to see that happen,” Weitala said.
As for Saturday’s event, Patrono was pleased with the turnout and productivity.
“The joy that people get from doing this is great,” he said. “They know for one hour they can and are saving lives and in the process they are transformed.”