Join The Pack Teams Are 'The Light' for Destitute Families: Attendees Pack 150,000 Meals, Raise Funds to Build Seven Homes in Guatemala
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 6, 2019) South Florida businesses, churches and community groups answered the call to help and packed 150,120 lifesaving meals for starving families in Guatemala during Food For The Poor's Join The Pack event on May 31 and June 1 at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
Over the last four years, they have generously donated their time at Join The Pack each spring to pack more than half a million lifesaving MannaPack meals to feed starving families in Haiti and Guatemala.
This year, in addition to packing meals, volunteers raised funds to build seven homes for families in desperate need of safe shelter in Sansur, Guatemala.
Bravo Supermarkets sponsored two of those homes, with DaVita, Jersey Mike's Subs and Hammock Street Church sponsoring one home each.
"Join The Pack is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to pitch in and do something to help our brothers and sisters in Guatemala," said Russell Silverglate, pastor of Hammock Street Church in Boca Raton. "It's exciting to be in a room full of people who are cheering each other on. We can look all around us in this country and see how much we have. We are so blessed to be able to give back."
Bravo Supermarkets co-owners Eliza and Juan Diaz traveled with Food For The Poor to Guatemala last September and saw firsthand how MannaPack meals are saving lives. They also met families living in shacks that allowed rain to pour through holes in the roof and flood the dirt floors.
Seeing how the MannaPack meals are helping families touched the Diazes' hearts.
"The trip to Guatemala motivated us. It makes us appreciate a lot more what we have and makes us want to do even more at these packing events," said Eliza Diaz. "We see the work that Food For The Poor is doing to help these families and it motivates to do even more."
The DAFFY Team which includes members from Christ Church United Methodist in Fort Lauderdale was the top fundraising team.
"It's invigorating. It's like every time is the first time," said DAFFY Team organizer Donna Cleveland, who has packed meals at all four Join The Pack events. "We invite new people every year. Kids can get involved. I have people already asking me about next year."
Grace Lago, Administrator for DaVita, a leading provider of kidney care across the United States, said the spirit of giving is embedded in the company's DNA, which makes Join The Pack a perfect fit for its employees.
"Join The Pack is close to our heart," said Lago. "Our company name means 'life.'"
Wendy Khouri, Food For The Poor's Project Manager in Guatemala, told volunteers on Saturday the story of a destitute woman who received a new home, thanks to the charity's generous donors.
"She put her key in her brand new door. She was shaking and said 'I'm going to cry now,'" Khouri recalled. "Of course both of us went into her new home and there were tears of joy. She looked at me and said, 'Who does this for people that they don't even know?'"
Sarah Hugus, a member of Church on the Hill in Boca Raton, said volunteers are following the words of Jesus who asked people to care for the poor.
"We try to help our community in a variety of ways. We're so happy to be packing food that's going to Guatemala as well as raising money that will go toward housing," Hugus said. "We want to help people help themselves."
Many families depend on the MannaPack meals, which are donated by Feed My Starving Children, the charity's longtime partner, and packed by volunteers at events like Join The Pack around the United States. Caritas Arquidiocesana, Food For The Poor's partner in Guatemala, delivers the meals.
In a place like Guatemala, which suffers from one of the worst rates of chronic malnutrition in the world, the meals are like precious gifts from God.
Food For The Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma said Join The Pack takes the charity back to its roots 37 years ago when it started out as a feeding program in Jamaica in 1982.
"In the scriptures Jesus says, 'You will do deeds that outperform mine.' And we're going to listen to his word and prove it because we're going to pack thousands and thousands of meals," Aloma said to the packing teams on Friday. "Before you can teach a person to fish you have to give them the fish to have them survive."
Aloma said Food For The Poor is committed to its core life-transforming strategies of building homes, providing clean water and building and restoring schools and giving people the opportunity to earn an income and break the cycle of poverty. But its first mission, he said, is providing food so children will live.
"We cannot have children die or get stunted psychologically, mentally and physically," Aloma said. "You are the light who comes here to shine a ray, to bring a pathway with that light so that these children will live, so that these children will thrive and so that these children will jump up and down when they get a new home."
Bravo Supermarkets was the presenting sponsor for Join The Pack. Other sponsors include DaVita, Jersey Mike's Subs, Hormel Foods, Granite Telecommunications, Florida Aquastore, Sonitrol of Fort Lauderdale, The Sena Group, QuestingHound Technology Partners and Goya.
Corporate and community packing teams included: Church on the Hill, DAFFY Team, Food For The Poor, Gordon & Partners, Hammock Street Church, It's a Family Affair, Kiwanis Club of Lauderdale Lakes, Kohl's Cares, Knights of Columbus, Nova Singers, Power Packers, Packing For The Poor, The Awesome Team, The LESS Institute, The Sena Group and Voices For The Poor.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned or abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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