We all say that we want no child to go to bed hungry. But what if you believed it could be true?
Consider this: the youth group of Henryetta Church of the Nazarene in Henryetta, Oklahoma believes that they can change the status quo of hunger in their town.
At the beginning of this school year, Henryetta’s youth pastor, Jeff Williamson, started a conversation with his students about the fact that every day 1 in 5 kids is at risk of going to bed hungry in the United States. He told his students: “How can this be here in America? There’s a need in our own city. We need to do something about it.”
His students agreed.
On October 11-12, Pastor Jeff and the students selected Feed the Children as their partner and planned a “fast” to raise money for hungry kids in their town.
Students asked church members, teachers and friends to sponsor them for every hour that they thought the student could go without food. Each student had to find 20 sponsors to donate $10 each. When the kids doubted they could find 20 sponsors, Pastor Jeff told them to count how many Facebook friends they had. That made the project seem easier.
Then they considered how the students would spend the hours of their fast. Pastor Jeff encouraged the group to gather at a local park and sleep outside for the night, like the homeless often have to. They agreed to sleep out, and not in tents or on air mattresses either. They slept in cardboard boxes. Even though it was colder than usual that night in the park, 25 students and 7 adults outlasted the night.
We asked Pastor Jeff how he got his students to sleep outside in the cold for a night. He said: “I challenged them to experience something new. I told them about all the people I’ve met in our town who camp out in the woods on a regular basis.”
Over and over, the students said the same thing about the experience: “I never knew how it felt to be homeless.”
In the end, their efforts raised over $10,000, which they have designated to bring one Feed the Children truck, filled with boxes of food and everyday essentials, to their community. The truck will arrive with a week’s supply of food, along with personal hygiene and household items, for 400 families in need. It is scheduled to arrive before the Thanksgiving holiday.
They’ve also approached several major grocery stores in their community asking them to donate turkeys. They hope to enhance the Feed the Children boxes with a free turkey and loaf of bread.
On October 20, members of the church visited with Feed the Children staff in Oklahoma City and presented the check for the funds they raised to Feed the Children President and CEO, Kevin Hagan.
Pastor Jeff said, “We want the community to know that we see them. They don’t have to be hungry over the holidays. God never intended the church to sit still while people are hungry in this world.”
When asked how families will be chosen to receive the food boxes, Pastor Jeff said they’re already working with school administrators in their town to select those who will receive the help.
We’re so proud of their efforts and what this group is doing to defeat hunger where they live!
Would you like to organize a similar project in your community? Contact us– we’d be glad to support you!