The 158 sixth- through eighth-graders prepared one vitamin-enriched meal every 6.9 seconds for Stop Hunger Now, an organization that allows volunteers to be a part of a foreign ministry project in an attempt to stop world hunger, said Jim Callis, head of the Marietta school.
“It was electric from start to finish,” Callis said. “Their energy was incredible. They have been looking forward to this project.”
Over the last year, students in kindergarten through eighth grade have raised about $13,500 to purchase the 25-cent meals for the school’s 2 Hours/2 Days campaign. The elementary school alone raised $5,000.
“Students were asked to return M&M Mini tubes with quarters which, when full, is about $10. Many students did just that,” Callis said. “A few did less, many others did more.”
One student went door-to-door in his neighborhood with his mother, telling the story about the project and
“When he finished, he had raised over $40,” Callis said. “Beyond the student fundraising, a handful of donors agreed to help fund any gap remaining between the end costs and what the students raised.”
On Friday, students lined up in the school’s gymnasium and weighed ingredients that included rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix, then packed and sealed each bag individually while students in the elementary school cheered from the bleachers above.
“The younger kids had just as much fun watching,” Callis said. “They all watched, waved and blew kisses to the students.”
Each time the students finished packing 1,000 bags, a student would hit a large gong in the middle of the assembly line.
“It was just a lot of fun,” sixth-grader Joe Boudreau said. “When we were unloading (the materials), at first I didn’t think we were going to make it, but we did.”
“My favorite part was knowing that all the meals we packed are going to help save lives,” he said.
The students had 16 minutes left to spare when they finished packing the meals.
“Everyone was really excited,” seventh-grader Aline O’Neill said. “I liked being able to think about helping people. It wasn’t hard to do — it was motivational.”
The meals Mt. Bethel students packed Friday will be part of 285,000 meals packed nationwide to be sent overseas, Callis said.
Callis said he is interested in making the fundraising drive and packing an annual event, possibly including the elementary school students next year.