SYCAMORE – More than 5,000 volunteers will pack more than a million meals this weekend at The Suter Co. for children around the world who otherwise could die of starvation.
Tim Suter, event organizer for the Make A Difference DeKalb County Feed My Starving children mobile pack, said he volunteered for the event when it was first held in 2010 at Cornerstone Christian Academy in Sycamore. He said this is the eighth year that he has hosted the event at his company at 1015 Bethany Road in Sycamore.
As he waited for the first round of volunteers to arrive Thursday, Suter said he keeps hosting the event because he has passion about the cause. He said it bothers him to know that 6,000 children die annually of starvation and related causes, something almost unfathomable in a land of abundance such as the Midwest.
He said that number was 18,000 children a year when the local effort began.
“We want to keep doing this until that number is down to zero,” he said.
Suter said this year’s goal is to pack 1.3 million meals to send to about 70 countries all over the world. Without these prepackaged dry meals, which contain rice, vegetables and other foods, a lot of malnourished children in poverty-stricken countries simply will have nothing to eat, he said.
Greg Howells said he and his wife Sherri, both of Sycamore, founded the local event with the global effort in 2010. Almost 2,000 volunteers helped pack about 575,000 meals during the first mobile pack event, he said, less than half the 1.3 million meals volunteers packed last year.
Greg Howells said they wanted to start the annual event nine years ago after volunteering for the organization and being inspired after visiting countries such as Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti during several mission trips with his church over the years.
“I’ve seen severe poverty firsthand, for sure,” Greg Howells said. “So it really just kind of broke our hearts to know at that time 18,000 kids were dying of starvation every day.”
Greg Howells said volunteer slots are pretty full for this year’s event, but anyone who wants to help can keep checking Make A Difference DeKalb County’s website at makeadifferencedkc.org/volunteering.
Suter said volunteers from several groups, including schools, participate every year. A lot of times, children as young as 5 years old help in what usually is their first volunteer opportunity, he said.
“It brings the community together,” Suter said. “We’re teaching others to serve, but mainly we’re feeding kids who need these meals.”