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A spirit that is not afraid

St. Michael the Archangel Church holds food packing event

Volunteers across Lee County joined St. Michael the Archangel Church in partnership with Cross Catholic Outreach to pack 50,000 meals for Central and South American families facing food insecurity on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Church. 

Almost 100 volunteers from young children to adults signed up to attend the food packaging event. Upon entering the church, volunteers donned hair nets and plastic gloves before packaging food. 

At the food packaging event, there were about six volunteer stations composed of eight people in each group. Each volunteer had a specific job. A volunteer could have helped scoop food into bags, weigh the food or seal packages.

“A box fits 36 meals,” said Shawn Goodrich, a representative of the Haiti Ministry for St. Michael’s parish. “The process of packaging food is very precise because if a bag of food is too big or too small, it won’t fit in the box, and the people must receive the right amount of food.”

A volunteer's goal was to create a Vitafood pack. Vitafood, a term coined by Cross Catholic Outreach, refers to specially formulated meal packs designed to nourish a malnourished body. 

“Each Vitafood pack has six meals in it,” said Erica Kvak, a representative from Cross Catholic Outreach. “The pack will have rice, soy, beans, dehydrated vegetables and a vitamin pack in every meal.

At 10 a.m., the volunteers have already packaged thousands of meals. Montana Philip, a Smiths Station Junior High School student and a member of her school’s Beta Club, was in charge of helping scoop food into bags.

“It is important to help other people,” Phillip said. “We can help the people in Central and South America.”

The food packaging event fell during a vital part of the year for St. Michael the Archangel Church. 

“For the Catholic church, this time of year is called Lent. We celebrate starting Ash Wednesday to Easter. The three goals of that period are prayer, fasting, and Almsgiving,” Goodrich said. “This is the Almsgiving part where we give to the poor. We raise the funds throughout the year to support this food packaging event. The church buys the food, packages it, and ships it to people.”

The food packaging event at St. Michael the Archangel Church happens annually. Cross Catholic Outreach conducts food packaging events every weekend throughout the southern region of the United States. 

Mary Abraham, an Auburn local, mother of three, and member of St. Michael the Archangel Church helped seal and add stickers to packages. 

“It’s a good thing helping the less fortunate, I have been doing these events for a couple of years,” Abraham said. “I’m quiet and a little introverted, and this gives me a chance to use my hands, not my voice, to help others.” 

St. Michael the Archangel Church has collaborated with Cross Catholic Outreach for the last four or five years to conduct food packaging events. Over the years, St. Michael packaged over 200,000 meals for hungry families in developing countries.

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