Hands-on service

Hansen Wendlandt, Pastor. NCPC, Nederland. Don’t you just love the Nederland Food Pantry? It makes our community a stronger place, by meeting the needs of so many people. As well, the Teen Center does great things for our young folks, while the Seniors group supports the other end of that spectrum.

This autumn we’ve seen all sorts of people mobilize to clean the woods and pull weeds. The Clothing Closet keeps locals warm, and Canyon Cares touches many lives. In the summertime Sandwiches & Socks helps campers, and the Community Presbyterian Church welcomes eager teenagers to do mission work in the area.

Some caring folks are looking at how to address our area housing crisis. And lots of organizations—Rotary, Mountain Forum for Peace, United Way, and so many more—address all sorts of justice and service issues.

Nederland has plenty of need, and we are blessed with people who work very hard to help their neighbors. Of course, we are all aware that other communities face more dire struggles. Take worldwide poverty, where around 1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Those numbers are barely comprehensible, but a visit to Haiti or Pakistan or Sudan drives home the overwhelming situation of our global neighbors.

Fortunately, there has been a lot of improvement in fighting extreme poverty over the last 25 years or so. Lives are improving. Still, about 2.6 million children die each year from hunger-related causes. And the hundreds of millions of children in poverty who do live, often suffer from malnourishment, little or no education, higher rates of HIV/AIDS, and all kinds of maladies.

How could the loving people of Nederland ever respond to such a huge issue? Here is one option.

The international organization Stop Hunger Now (stophungernow.org) acts as a mission bridge for Americans who want to put their hands to action without flying around the world. They provide huge bags of rice, dried vegetables, vitamins, and protein; then various businesses, schools, churches, or community groups give the time and energy to package those into healthy and convenient meals. Packing sessions are like fun, intergenerational assembly lines. People talk and laugh together while touching lives internationally. Little children can carry baskets, people in wheelchairs can seal bags, and the strong-backed can deliver ingredients.

With the help of regular people like us serving at packing sessions, Stop Hunger Now has sent nearly 175,000,000 meals to children in need, improving health, drawing them to school, and breaking cycles of poverty.

Community Presbyterian Church is partnering with other Nederland organizations to invite Stop Hunger Now here in 2015. We intend to pack 10,000 meals at a cost of only 29 cents per meal, plus some shipping.

You can help in a couple of ways. First, when we know exactly when the packing session will happen, bring your family and friends to the Teen Center to help fill some bags! (We will announce when that is, after we arrange the lowest shipping costs.)

Second, as we come into the holiday season, you can get into the giving spirit by purchasing a holiday ornament. For a $10 donation, you can bring home a green ball, and know that you fed one child one meal for a whole month. Imagine your Christmas morning, surrounded by wrapping paper and loved ones, with a symbol on your tree reminding everyone of the powerful blessing you are in someone’s life. Or give $25 for a blue ornament, and add it to your Hanukkah decorations. And we even have $100 red balls that would hang nicely on a Festivus pole!

In nearly 20 years of ministry, I have seen countless ways to give money to organizations that do great work with people in need. Simple donations are helpful and vital. Stop Hunger Now is, however, the best model I know for building local community while supporting global initiatives.

If you want to support this project, and take home a token of remembrance, you can pick your own hunger-stopping ornament right off the tree at church, or at the Holiday Market on 7 December.