Young and Old Join Forces at Brownson
BY ANGELA ZUMWALT
Special to The Pilot
On a Sunday morning in early June, a large white truck rolled into the back parking lot and up to a ramp at Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Southern Pines.
The church campus was quiet under a hot sun with only the muffled sound of the congregation singing during the church service in the sanctuary.
While the congregation sang, a small team set to work unloading boxes of dried foods and large bags of rice and soy from the truck and transporting them to the fellowship hall on the church campus. Tables in various configurations were already in place.
Matt Anlyan, from the Stop Hunger Now organization in Raleigh, had driven the truck, and now took his position directing the team members regarding the positioning of boxes, containers, rice, dried foods, scales and sealing machines.
The church service ended, and 140 volunteers swarmed the registration table to collect a name badge and an assignment. The noise level rose as people gathered for a simple sandwich lunch prepared by the first wave of volunteers.
After lunch, the volunteers stood at their assigned stations, listening intently to Anlyan as he described the process. The goal was to carefully bag as many meals as possible. Teams at nine tables would measure and make up plastic bags containing rice, soy, dried vegetables, a broth cube and vitamin powder. Each bag will feed six people. Runners would take the bags to the "weighers" who would add or subtract rice to the exact required weight. The "weighers" would pass the bags to the "sealers," seated opposite them, who would heat-seal the bags. Runners would take the sealed bags to the counting table, where they would be counted and then packaged into boxes, which were then taped closed, marked and taken out to the truck.
There was plenty of work for everyone - no matter what their age or physical ability. As each one thousand meals were successfully packaged, the Rev. Grady Perryman and a young "gonger" would strike the large gong up on the stage. The competition for this activity was fierce.
The excitement grew. They were ready. But first, they all needed to wear either a red or blue paper sanitary shower cap. The crowd dissolved in laughter, gaining just enough composure to begin the task.
The teams picked up speed, the weighers weighed, the sealers sealed, the runners screamed and laughed and ran, the counters counted and boxed. GONG! and a cheer erupted.
The teams went faster; more weighers and sealers were needed. Young church members jumped in and joined the older members, seated at the weighing and sealing tables. Music rang out over the sound system, and the children ran and danced and laughed. GONG! and another thousand meals were packaged.
That day, the volunteers cheered as they heard 18 gongs: 18,456 meals were packaged. They were taken by truck to the Stop Hunger Now warehouse in Raleigh.
Established in 1998, Stop Hunger Now is an international relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world.
Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church provided the funding and the volunteers for 18,456 meals. The meal packaging event was chosen by Brownson as a way to allow all of its members - young and old - to participate in an effort to help others in times of need around the world.
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