“Campaign to End Hunger” Nov 9 – Manassas Park – There’s still time to sign up
MANASSAS PARK, Va. – There’s still time to register to help pack meals for the House of Mercy’s annual “Campaign to End Hunger,” Saturday, Nov. 9, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Manassas Park Community Center, located at 99 Adams Street.
Volunteer registration is being accepted at the House of Mercy (8170 Flannery Court) and on its website, www.houseofmercyva.org. Sponsors and donations are also appreciated, said House of Mercy Executive Director Kellie Ross.
This is the third consecutive year of the event, when volunteers for the faith-based nonprofit humanitarian organization in Manassas pack food for meals to be distributed to the hungry.
Feeds hungry locally and abroad
This year’s campaign includes packing meals for families in need overseas and at home, Ross said. Previous “Campaign to End Hunger” events focused on sending meals to hungry families in third-world countries, such as Nicaragua. The hungry in that nation will again be recipients, but Ross said she wants to ensure that this year’s campaign also assists local residents.
“Instead of having packing lines exclusively for the production of meals to be shipped overseas, we’re going to have a mixture of domestic lines and international lines for the food,” Ross said. “So some of the food will remain here in the community.”
Raises awareness, and funds House of Mercy
The event does more than feed the hungry. “‘Campaign to End Hunger’ is primarily a program to raise awareness of hunger,” Ross said.
It’s also a family-oriented community service activity, she added. “It’s a way for people to come together and do real hands-on, life-saving work. Kids as young as 5 years old can pack meals with their parents on the packing line. Participating in the event helps children and adults understand the need to help others and to develop citizenship activities,” she said.
Additionally, the event is a fundraiser for the agency, which relies on donations to operate and to support its numerous community programs.
“It provides critical funding for the House of Mercy year round,” Ross said. Donations received during the campaign “above and beyond” covering the costs of the program “will stay right here in our community to support our programs for the poor. So it is definitely a win-win for everyone because we help people locally, not just internationally,” she said.
House of Mercy programs include “Passport to Hope,” providing free food, clothing and other assistance to low-income families; free tutoring and educational programs and classes designed to help area residents improve their job prospects and quality of life; a back-to-school program for kids in need; and a Christmas toy giveaway for the organization’s low-income clients.
“We rely on the ‘Campaign to End Hunger’ to help buy school supplies and new shoes for kids, to provide financial assistance for those in need as donations allow and to help put food in our food pantry to feed the hungry,” Ross said.
The agency also operates a host of community outreaches, including home prayer visits for the sick and a bimonthly homeless outreach in Washington, D.C., where House of Mercy volunteers wash the feet of the homeless and give them new socks, underwear and other items, Ross said.
“Our philosophy is that we have a stronger community when people are empowered. So the more we can do to help build stronger individuals, the stronger we build our community,” she said.
The goal: 250,000 meals
The agency’s goal for the 2013 campaign, themed “Who CARES about Hunger?,” is to pack 250,000 meals, according to Gary Korpi, the director of volunteer projects for Hope for the City, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization. Korpi, who also helped plan the first “Campaign to End Hunger,” assisted Ross in organizing this year’s event.
“If we do 250,000 meals at about 25 cents a meal, that’s right around $62,500, just to buy ingredients and supplies, but we’d like to be able to raise more than that, because the excess helps support House of Mercy and its efforts,” Korpi said.
Volunteers packed more than 500,000 meals during the first campaign in 2011 and about 283,000 at last year’s event, he said. “We’re being more conservative with this year’s goal because there’s a drop compared to previous events in the number of people who have pre-pledged so far. If we can raise more money for the event, we’ll certainly raise the meal-packing total, but we want to make sure there is a balance in how much goes abroad and how much funding goes to House of Mercy to help the local community.”
Volunteers during last year’s “Campaign to End Hunger” packed 283,000 meals.
To register online as a volunteer or sign up as a sponsor for this year’s event, click on “Our Causes” at www.houseofmercyva.org and go to “Campaign to End Hunger.”
Volunteers are asked when registering to commit to a specific donation amount depending on the timeslot they sign up for to help pack meals. Other timeslots are available that do not request a donation.
“People can donate to package the meal ingredients or they can decide that they want to help support the program with a donation without coming in to pack,” Korpi said. “There’s also the opportunity for people to just come in and pack.”
This year’s program will include testimonies and stories of the campaign’s impact, speeches by Korpi and Ross about their experiences in fighting hunger locally and globally and, while volunteers are packing, a slideshow presentation of poverty-related statistics, Ross said. “We plan to educate our volunteers on how the food they’re packing is going to make a positive difference,” she said.
About the House of Mercy
The House of Mercy is a Catholic-based humanitarian nonprofit organization located in Manassas, Va. Founded by the Missionaries of Our Lady of Divine Mercy in 2005, the organization is dedicated to serving the poor, marginalized and forgotten by sharing the message of God’s mercy to others and providing free food, clothing and other donated items to those in need. The House of Mercy offers a variety of community programs designed to improve local residents’ quality of life.
House of Mercy
8170 Flannery Court
Manassas, VA 20109