ARGYLE — Argyle United Methodist Church started off Friday with 12,000 pounds of rice, 4,000 pounds of soy, 1,050 pounds of vitamins and 560 pounds of dehydrated vegetables.
The goal for Saturday was to have all the food packed and ready to ship to malnourished children around the world.
Hairnet-clad community members worked assembly-line style in Argyle Fire Station 511 on Saturday morning for the Pack With Love event, filling, sealing and packing thousands of meals for malnourished children. On hand to supervise were staffers from Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit.
Some Argyle United Methodist Church members already volunteer their time once a month to pack meals at FMSC’s local warehouse in Richardson. Around Christmas last year, they decided they wanted to do more.
“As a pastor at our church, I wanted to do more service in our community,” said Sarah Roberts, associate pastor at Argyle United Methodist Church.
With FMSC’s goal of packing 365 million meals before the fiscal year ends, church members wanted to help out. They packed about 35,424 meals on Friday, and Roberts hoped the last two shifts on Saturday would be able to pack 50,000 meals.
Volunteers filled bags with measured scoops of rice, soy, vegetables and powdered vitamins. Each bag had to weigh between 380 and 400 grams.
Several workstations were set up around the firehouse. Once a station had 36 bags ready, they were packed into a box. The boxes were taken to the back of the firehouse, where they were loaded onto a pallet in groups of 36.
The boxes on the pallet were then sealed and taken by a forklift to an 18-wheeler. The boxes will go to FMSC’s warehouse in Richardson for a few weeks until the nonprofit decides where to send them.
The first shift Saturday started about 9:20 a.m. The first pallet was filled and sealed about 9:45, with the next coming in around 10 a.m.
About 80 volunteers filled each session, Roberts said.
“It’s been so cool to see everything has worked out like this,” Roberts said of the number of volunteers in each shift.
Adults were accompanied by their young children, who helped scoop ingredients into bags and carry filled bags to packing stations. Although they were working, the volunteers tried to have fun, too.
Roberts echoed what the orientation video says: Anyone age 5 or older can help. She said a lot of churchgoers were looking for volunteer opportunities where they could also get their kids involved.
Besides church members, Roberts said some volunteers signed up with their groups, including scouts, honor societies and fitness groups.
“Ready, aim, fire,” chanted Reese Barton, a Girl Scout, each time she prepared to fill a bag with ingredients.
Sarah Pratt, the scout leader for Troop 856 based at Argyle Middle School, said this is one of a few volunteer opportunities the girls have taken.
“I think it’s important for the girls to learn what it means to serve others without getting anything in return,” Pratt said.
Roberts said the church already is planning another volunteer event with Feed My Starving Children in April. However, the biggest challenge is fundraising. Putting together 100,000 meals takes $23,000 in donations from the community.
Despite this, Roberts said church members already are talking about helping again in 2020.
“Hunger is one of the most prevailing issues,” said Argyle resident Tyler Tillerson. “There’s so many benefits [that come from] trying to solve them — economic, education.”
After the packing was through, Roberts announced the final tally: Just over 500 volunteers assembled 101,088 total meals — enough to feed about 277 children for a year.