“Thank You 4Life!” Twelve-Year-Old Mercy Brings Greetings and Inspiration to Foundation 4Life Convention

Imagine flying on an airplane for the first time, bound for a foreign country you’ve never visited, to give a speech to 7,000 people who speak eight different languages.

Now imagine doing that at the age of twelve.

Last month, twelve-year-old Mercy was selected to represent Honduras and her community at the 4Life International Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Foundation 4Life has been a partner with Feed the Children since 2010 and has supported our Food & Nutrition programs in several countries. In addition, Foundation 4Life has adopted two communities to provide everything from school supplies and new classrooms to projects supporting livelihood development.

Mercy’s adventure began on the airplane, her first ever, during which she peered out the window at cities, rivers and even rooftop swimming pools—a very different vantage point from her usual one from a car, bicycle or on foot in her community.

During her layover in Miami, Florida, Mercy experienced firsthand the cultural melting pot of hair and skin color, wardrobe, tattoos and body piercings that exists in the United States—sights and experiences she had only imagined or seen on TV.

B4SeZhVBdY7u4XdAdAnj8WKJYCWjc-SJ77uCqSE5GgsOnce in Salt Lake City, Utah, the host city for Bring Dreams Home: 4Life International Convention, Mercy was given the royal treatment—a hotel room with a view, meals from restaurants and many exciting adventures. Her favorite experience was seeing penguins, sea otters and other sea creatures at the Living Planet Aquarium. Although she missed the comfortable heat of her native Honduras, she was very excited to feel the fresh snow that fell during her visit and covered the ground like a “white carpet.” Like so many girls her age, she captured the experience with lots of photos and selfies, and she made fast friends with Bea, another teen ambassador who was bringing greetings and thanks to 4Life on behalf of her community in the Philippines.

Heidy Mejia, Regional Communications Specialist in Honduras for Feed the Children, accompanied Mercy to Salt Lake City. In her account of the trip, Heidy wrote, “Seeing Mercy enjoy experiences that many people consider normal—boarding a train, an airplane, an elevator; opening the room of the hotel with a card instead of a key; automatic water faucets, a nice bed, a bathroom with warm water in the mornings; cornflakes with chocolate milk, a good piece of cake—you realize how great these simple pleasures can be when you aren’t used to them.” Heidy also marveled at the ways Mercy and Bea became immediate friends and could communicate with one another despite not speaking a common language.

FUnYZfX-8lAQ0pDatTkpSK1fdwjMQ1aykLr4AeGInOI-NL9mzJEtUiztCUWa5LGp5n1Otvp2leWaFjQqR9UNqjYWhen it came time for Mercy to speak during the convention, she stood on the stage with Bianca Lisonbee, 4Life Co-Founder and Vice Chairwoman of the Board, and Cynthia Gerlinger, winner of the “At the Heart of it” service award. The theme of the 4Life convention was “Bring Dreams Home,” and Mercy brought that message to life as she thanked the gathering for supporting her community through development projects, education and food:

Good afternoon 4Life! My name is Mercy and I’m from Honduras.

Thanks to your donations, the school in my community has a feeding center, a vegetable garden, a recycle center, new bathrooms, an incinerator and two new classrooms!

There are a lot of children, mothers and families who benefit from the donations that you make to Foundation 4Life.

You are the answers to our prayers. Your donations are the progress of my community.

I dream of becoming a doctor someday and, like you, help other people. Thank you for everything you do… THANK YOU 4LIFE!

WSfJNkLWXmZESiTY2jhtN7ZyIQK7ZF2HJofSWjvfmTo-1rwlQj20Q5y1w0OnH9nUycqBVRxtSeuSjJqRAy6GXV8“From the moment of her speech, she was an instant celebrity,” wrote Heidy. “People wanted to take pictures with her and talk to her. People gave her a lot of advice, asked her many questions about her experience with Foundation 4Life, and told her to reach for her dreams to help others.”

“All these memories and experiences were possible thanks to the support of Foundation 4Life, the people who donate to the foundation, and Feed the Children,” said Heidy. “People think that they are helping a hungry child with food, but it’s more than that. More than they can imagine.”

 

Nepal Earthquake Relief: Update and a Word of Thanks

It’s been almost two weeks since a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal and parts of India. Villages were flattened, homes destroyed, and casualties number in the thousands. From the highest peaks of Everest to the most remote villages, the loss is widespread and hard to comprehend. We’ve also seen tales of courage and triumph, as ordinary people come together in extraordinary ways—as babies are carefully pulled from the rubble, precious and alive; as neighbors work with neighbors to meet basic needs for food and shelter. The stories continue to pour in.

Donations are also pouring in—tangible signs of concern and support for our brothers and sisters in Nepal. We’d like to thank you, our donors, who have given generously to assist with relief efforts. Whether it’s a donation of $10 or a corporate gift in the thousands, every dollar is making a difference.

The funds our donors provide for earthquake relief are being used by our implementing partner, World Neighbors, that’s been active in Nepal since 1973. Our international leadership has identified World Neighbors as having the necessary connections and expertise to be a part of lasting recovery and development in the region, and Feed the Children is proud to work with them in this effort.

“When disaster strikes, it takes the help of many to provide relief for those affected,” said Matt Panos, Feed the Children Chief Development Officer. “Here at Feed the Children, we know we could not provide a glimpse of hope in a time of despair without the help of donors and partners.”

Dr. Kate Schecter, President and CEO of World Neighbors, is keeping us informed on progress since the disaster through Srijana Thapa, World Neighbors Regional Director for South Asia. According to the latest update, buildings and homes have been reduced to rubble in many communities where World Neighbors is active. Others have lost roofs or walls and are in states of near-collapse. Some basic forms of aid are beginning to arrive into these communities, but it’s been a slow process and provisions are few. In many places, people are receiving food from local stores on credit, but there is distrust and fear that supplies will soon run short, or stores will stop allowing these purchases. Aftershocks are becoming less frequent, but have measured 4-5 on the Richter scale.

World Neighbors is addressing the immediate need for shelter, medical aid, and clean water within several rural, remote Nepali communities. World Neighbors has procured and distributed tarps, medications, rice, and oil to last for fifteen days. But the work continues, and the rebuilding process will take years.

Nepal is already starting to fade from the headlines, but the recovery and relief effort is far from over—in fact it is only beginning. Thank you to all of our donors who will be part of this effort through your generous gifts.

To give to the Nepal earthquake relief effort, click here.

Don’t Wait for ‘Someday’ to Do Your Part: North Carolina Man to Run Fifty Miles for Feed the Children

Ask someone who works two demanding jobs what they do in their free time, and you may get one of these responses:
a) Sleep.
b) Chill out with some TV.
c) Free time? What free time?

But if you’re Thomas VonCannon of Raleigh, NC, there’s another option:
d) train for a fifty mile race and raise money for Feed the Children in the process.

Thomas VonCannon, raising funds for Feed the Children
Thomas VonCannon with his cheering section

“My wife will be the first to tell you, I’ve always been a little insane,” VonCannon says. He’s dreamed of taking on “off the wall races” such as the Black Hills 100, a grueling hundred-mile race in South Dakota in which only 35% finish. But to get there, he says, you need a fifty miler under your belt. So he registered for the North Face Endurance Challenge April 18-19, which runs along the Potomac River near Washington DC on a series of rocky and hilly trails.

VonCannon is not a lifelong runner—he was a self-described “marching band nerd” in school who ran his first race in his 20s when a buddy challenged him to do so. Since that first 5K, he’s done a handful of half marathons, marathons and triathlons. But this is his first fifty-miler, and his first race in about six years. “Before signing up for North Face, I’d try to get out there once a week for maybe three to five miles,” VonCannon says. “I hadn’t run more than ten miles in a long time, until I started training for this.”

VonCannon knew from the start that his race experience should have a greater purpose. “I wanted to do something for a charity. I believe we should be ‘light in the world,’ and back up what we believe with action, not just words.” So VonCannon turned to his employer, hotel chain Concord Hospitality, for suggestions on a worthy cause to support.

Concord Share Day 2014 Tampa
Concord Share Day 2014 in Tampa

Concord has partnered with Feed the Children for six years through its Share Day event. This past year, some 200 hotel employees across the country raised funds to bring Feed the Children’s “truckloads of hope” to the communities in which Concord hotels are located. These trucks are stuffed with care packages containing food and hygiene items, and 235,200 packages were delivered in 2014 alone.

Thomas chose Feed the Children based on this long-standing relationship with Concord. “I cannot say enough about how supportive and amazing Concord has been,” he says. VonCannon has already raised much of his $1000 goal thanks to friends, family and work associates, but he’d love to surpass that goal in the few weeks he has left.

VonCannon works a night shift for Concord 3-4 nights a week. That’s in addition to his other job as a General Manager for a sports bar, a job that has him working six days a week. Still, he says the training’s going well. “This week I worked Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so I had to hit the training hard early in the week.” That meant thirteen miles one day, fifteen the next, followed by “easy” four and five mile runs. Because he’s in uncharted territory, he isn’t sure how long these fifty miles will take, but he’d be “ecstatic” to finish in less than ten hours. “I’m not built for speed,” he says, though his 3:50 marathon time finishes put him in respectable company among recreational runners.

In addition to training, VonCannon knows that a race like this is largely mental. “It’s important to keep things in perspective,” he says. “There are people fighting for our country right now; there are hungry children around the world… and I’m running a silly race.”

Concord Share Day 2014 Tampa
Concord Share Day 2014 in Tampa

But VonCannon also realizes that it’s up to each of us to do what we can to make a difference. In addition to his two jobs, VonCannon stays busy with two young children as well as church activities. Still, he says, “I got tired of talking about doing something ‘one day.’ There’s always going to be something to prevent you from doing that thing you really want to do.”

“Some people wait for change… some people work for change.”

To contribute to VonCannon’s effort, visit his Crowdrise page.

 

 

“Do You Believe?” Feed the Children Chosen as Ministry Partner for New Film

True belief always requires action.

This is one of the central messages of the upcoming feature film DO YOU BELIEVE? opening around the country March 20. The cast includes Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Cybill Shepherd and Ted McGinley and is a project of Pure Flix Entertainment, the creators of last year’s God’s Not Dead. The new film tells the story of twelve strangers and the ways their lives intersect with one another to create positive change in their lives and communities.

We’re excited that Feed the Children has been selected as a charity partner for the film. Kevin Hagan, CEO of Feed the Children, says, “DO YOU BELIEVE? is a must-see film! It’s filled with so many truths of the power of love and the importance of not giving up on those who seem too far gone to help or save. At Feed the Children, we are in the business of not giving up—no matter how daunting the problem of child hunger is. We see on a day-to-day basis how one person, with God’s help, can forever alter the future and lives of people.”

Putting one’s beliefs into action isn’t just the message of DO YOU BELIEVE?—it’s a guiding principle behind Feed the Children’s work. We believe that kids thrive when they have access to food, clean water, a quality education and the chance for a better future. We put that belief into action through the work we do every day. But we don’t do this work alone—we partner with individuals and organizations around the country and world.

Give a goat
A gift from the Feed the Children gift catalog makes a difference!

Like the couple who is signing up to sponsor a child because they believe in using their resources to make a difference in the life of a young person halfway around the world. Or the mother buying Easter gifts for her family who decides to shop from our gift catalog, because she’s committed to creating lasting change for a community in need.

Like parents and community members in Haiti meeting together in care groups because they believe community collaboration is the best way to overcome poverty.

Or the members of Faithbridge Church in Osage Beach, MO and friends from their community who spent a recent Saturday unloading a truck full of food and supplies for a local food pantry, because they believe in loving their neighbors through concrete action.

True belief always requires action.

Matt Panos, chief development officer of Feed the Children, says, “DO YOU BELIEVE? is a ‘celebration of grace’ and an important reminder for how we should love and care for our neighbors. It’s a real-life depiction of how believers and non-believers interact in everyday life with the subtle thread of Biblical teaching for how we, as Christians, should act toward each other and toward a world that is watching us.”

Join us at the movies… and in partnership as we put belief into action, so kids can be kids.

Making Your Year End Contributions Easy

It’s that time of year in the United States — with only three days left to think about your 2014 taxes — especially if you are a procrastinator like we are at our house.

It’s those days when you gather up receipts. You count your donations. And you ask yourself the question, did I give enough?

It’s the time of year you say to your spouse: “Wouldn’t you rather give our money to a charity than to pay taxes on it?”

If this is where you find yourself on this last week of 2014, then we have some great ideas for you to contribute in the most tangible of ways, at a variety of different price points.

1. Want to give less than $50?  Then why not give one food and one essential care box that feeds a family of four in the US for a week?

We recently told you the story of a Georgia family where the father lost his job but because of Feed the Children the kids had food for the week!  Giving this gift of $38 could mean the difference between hope and hopelessness for a family in the US.

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2. Want to give less than $100? Why not give a goat that will uplift a family in a country like Malawi?

Goats in places countries like Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, countries where we work, can mean the difference between prosperity and despair. We recently told you about a woman in Malawi who received two goats and it changed the course of her kids’ lives. Your donation could bring a smile like this!

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 3. Want to give give a gift that is just a little bit more? Could you give $113? With this end of year donation, you could provide all the food, care and support an abandoned baby needs to thrive in Kenya.

We recently told you the story of how one baby girl in our center came to us after a terrorist attack killed her parents. She found loving caregivers and hope for adoption because of Feed the Children donors. This could be you!

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If these price points don’t meet your needs– if you can give more or you could give less– here’s a link to a way you can make a donation in the amount of your choice.

Thank you donors, partners, and friends for helping Feed the Children champion kids all over the world!  We believe in a world where one day hunger will end, because together we will defeat it.

 

Typhoon Hagupit hits the Philippines

Another potentially devastating Typhoon has landed in the Central Philippines where thousands of families were displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan last November.

Typhoon Hagupit (locally known in the Philippines as Typhoon Ruby) has slowed as it moves over land, which can create major flooding from the heavy rainfall, in addition to potentially damaging strong winds. Communication lines and electricity have been damanged and roads are impassable around the affected areas of Dolores and Cataingan. The extent of the typhoon’s impact remains unclear.

Before the typhoon made landfall, some 717,000 people were pre-emptively evacuated. An estimated 133,000 families are staying in 1,758 evacuation centers across the affected regions.

Our staff will be regularly checking with community leaders in the local communities we serve. Mobile kitchens will be established in affected areas, providing hot food fortified with VitaMeal. Bags of rice and bottled water will also be provided to children and families.

The Feed the Children team in the Philippines is planning to initially establish disaster response feeding stations in two provinces (Bohol and Cebu) to prepare hot, nutritious meals using VitaMeal, mixed with rice, milk, chocolate powder and sugar.

We’re working closely with local leaders, parents in the communities affected as well as groups trained and formed by Feed the Children Philippines, along with local government units and public schools. It’s expected that up to 30,000 persons will need 150,000 meals as a direct response.

In other areas that may be severely impacted by Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby – namely in the provinces of Masbate, Leyte and Samar) Feed the Children will mobilize to establish additional disaster response feeding stations. It’s forecasted the worst hit areas of the Samar provinces will need 107 feeding stations. A total of ten partner organizations are expected to assist us with those efforts.

Information on additional disaster response plans will be updated into next week once an assessment of the situation is completed.

If you would like to support our organization as we provide relief after this storm, please visit www.feedthechildren.org/hagupit.

Giving Tuesday: Give a Gift That Matters

Get some great deals on Black Friday? Wait until you see the gifts you can pick up from our gift catalog.

Today is the third annual ‘Giving Tuesday,’ which is a day reminding us to give back, and the internet is full of causes asking for donations. But do you really know where your money is going when you click ‘donate’?

For Giving Tuesday, we invite you to know your gift matters. Whether it’s a chicken, a book, a water purification system, or a semi-truck full of necessities, these gifts can help children and their families succeed.

We understand that it might be hard to decide with so many options, so here’s five gift suggestions to help you get started:

FEED A CLASS OF 50 CHILDREN ($20)

feed_class_50
Help feed school children with a traditional Githeri meal of corn and kidney beans. In our Kenya programs, Feed the Children serves meals to 140,229 children in 170 schools each school day. Your gift will help children thrive physically and mentally.

WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS FOR 2 FAMILIES FOR 1 YEAR ($29)

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Even clean water can become contaminated while being carried home or stored for later use. These tablets are one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent diarrhea and other waterborne health issues

1 GOAT ($79)

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Goats are great for families trying to overcome poverty – a source of meat, milk and income.

FISHING GEAR FOR 1 PERSON ($188)

fishing_gear_1person
Teach a man to fish and you give him the tools to provide his family with food for a lifetime. You also provide a family with the means of a stable income when they sell the excess fish at the market.

1 SEMITRUCK LOADED WITH NECESSITIES FOR 400 FAMILIES ($15,000)

semitruck_400fam
Keep the trucks moving! Your gift helps Feed the Children pick up and deliver food and other essentials to communities across America. Thanks to caring friends like you, our 40 semitrucks will stay on the road to feed hungry families and children throughout our nation.

Whether your holiday shopping list contains a new toy or the hottest new device, be sure to make a difference this Giving Tuesday and help defeat hunger with Feed the Children.

Hunger Headlines Week of October 20th

These are stories catching our eyes this week. Click the headline to read the whole story.

Leader’s Corner

“We Must Take Risks”

Maybe the best thing we can do for our organizations is what nobody else is willing to do, by Feed the Children President and CEO Kevin Hagan

Poverty

“Over 48 million Americans live in poverty”

Over 48 million Americans live in poverty, according to a special report by the Census Bureau. What has the ability to change this? Jobs, jobs, and more jobs, this new study says. 

“Poverty and School Funding: why low income students often suffer.”

While the current U.S. economy continues to improve, there is one area that is still feeling the squeeze from the recession years: K-12 public school spending. Our funding for public schools has a lot to do with long term achievement of students, especially in urban areas.

“One in seven Australians living below the poverty line, survey reveals”

We think of Australia as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but a new study shows that the rate of families in poverty is on the rise. Nearly 18% of children in the country live beneath the poverty line, one-third of them in sole-parent families,

Domestic Hunger

“Many of Iowa’s hungry are children”

A state known by many as the “bread basket” of the US struggles with hunger too. Children account for one in three of Iowa’s food pantry customers, a new survey of the state’s food pantries shows.

Do Minimum Wage Increases Benefit the Middle Class?

As rallies to increase the minimum wage across the United States continue, many are asking what happens to the middle class? Will their prosperity increase too?

International Hunger

Can we feed everyone?

We all want to live in a world where no child goes to bed hungry. But is this possible considering our current agricultural resources? One blogger explores this question.

Global Response to Ebola Highlights Challenges to Delivering Aid

As international NGOs join together to bring resources to the countries deeply devastated by Ebola, the progress is slow. The fear and stigma associated with the Ebola virus contributes to recruitment problems.

Feed the Children Responds to Ebola Outbreak

Feed the Children and Curamericas Global are partnering to help stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa, and to assist those areas already infected with the disease.

Hunger Headlines Week of September 28, 2014

These are stories catching our eyes this week. Click the headline to read the whole story.

Leader’s Corner

“The Shame of NGOs Unwilling to Risk”

Three reasons why nonprofits avoid the risks of innovation, by Feed the Children President and CEO Kevin Hagan

 

Poverty

“Five Reasons Why We’re Losing the War on Poverty” 

Poverty does not appear to be waving the white flag anytime soon. While the official poverty rate in the United States recently declined for the first time in seven years, the war on destitution is far from over and feels like a losing battle for millions of Americans.

“Locking up parents for not paying child support can be a modern-day “‘debtor’s prison.'”

There’s a seismic shift going on in Virginia: treating parents who owe child support as more than just deadbeats.

“How our child support system can push the poor deeper into poverty”

Punishing deadbeat parents is supposed to help families — but it can have the opposite effect. In the United States, nearly one in four children are due some sort of child support. But only 62 percent of the money owed is actually paid.

 

Domestic Hunger

Bread for the World Highlights the 10 Hungriest and Poorest States

The states with the highest proportion of hungry and poor people are in the South, according to a Bread for the World analysis of the latest U.S. Census data. Several states in the region account for large portions of the more than 49 million Americans who were at risk of hunger and 45 million Americans who lived in poverty last year.

USDA offers $31.5M for healthier food stamp diet

A division of the Agriculture Department is making $31.5 million in funding available to help people on food stamps obtain healthier foods.

International Hunger

West Africa Ebola Crisis Hits Tourism, Compounds Hunger In Gambia

Pestilence, cyclical droughts and floods, and the West Africa Ebola crisis have pushed hunger to record levels in Gambia, where 200,000 people need urgent food assistance, the United Nations says.

Tourism is a significant source of income for the country, and even though Gambia has not seen cases of Ebola, the outbreak in the region has caused visitor numbers to plummet by 60 percent compared to last year, said Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the U.N. representative for Gambia.

Hunger pains: U.S. food program struggles to move forward

Virtually every other aid-giving country and the United Nations, which helps coordinate them, use a flexible system in which critically needed grains, oils and other commodities are purchased as close to a crisis or famine zone as possible. When appropriate, many also give cash transfers or vouchers instead of sacks of food, saving money and precious time getting aid to the young, the elderly, the sick and families in crisis.

But since 1954, Congress has mandated that Food for Peace, the flagship U.S. food aid program, primarily would buy American commodities from U.S. suppliers and transport them thousands of miles on U.S.-flagged ships, even when cheaper, faster and better alternatives exist. The journey often takes seven months, as the food moves from Midwestern fields to coastal ports, across the ocean and then by truck or even donkey to its intended recipients. By then, the food may be rotted or too late to be of much help.

Hunger Headlines- Week of September 25

See what is going on in the world of hunger this week. Check out these headlines:

Thought Leadership

Leadership Lesson: What Questions Are You Asking?

Feed the Children President and CEO Kevin Hagan writes this week about what forward-thinking organizations are all about: being curious. Though it might feel easier to assume or project to others that we have all the answers, Kevin says that we must be willing to ask great questions. Read more about some of the questions Feed the Children is asking itself, right on Kevin’s blog.

Poverty News

The U.S. is losing a generation to poverty

This week, when the United States Census Bureau released its poverty data for the year 2013, it showed the first significant decline in poverty since the Great Recession hit: down from 15 percent to 14.5. Greeted more cheerily by economic observers was the news that child poverty had made its biggest drop in years: down almost 2 whole percentage points. It was better news than observers expected. It’s all relative, though, and enthusiasm was qualified. These numbers are still higher than they were before the recession. Read the rest of the article at The Daily Beast.

Hunger News in the U.S.

Who can afford to eat healthy food in the United States?

We all know that good food for kids comes in the form of fruits and vegetables. But what if families don’t have access to these kinds of food? What if families who do have access to these kinds of foods can’t afford to buy them? A new study examines what it takes to eat well in the United States. Read more about this study on Business Cheat Sheet

Hunger News around the World

World hunger easing but 1 in 9 people undernourished: food agencies

Who is hungry in the world? The number of hungry people in the world has fallen sharply over the past decade but 805 million, or 1 in 9 of the global population, still do not have enough to eat, three U.N. food and agriculture agencies said recently. The number of chronically undernourished people dropped by more than 100 million, equivalent to a country the size of the Philippines, according to a report by the United Nations food agency (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP). Read more of this article on Reuters.

Brazil Removed from UN World hunger map

Do you know what countries are on the UN hunger map? You can download it here

The Brazilian government Tuesday hailed a new United Nations report that for the first time removed Latin America’s biggest country from the World Hunger Map. “Leaving the Hunger Map is a historic milestone for Brazil. We are very proud because overcoming hunger was a priority for the Brazilian state,” Social Development Minister Tereza Campello said in a statement. Read this article on ABC News.