It’s a story about filling the bellies of the hungry. Kristen Lauber lived it, and now wants to spread the wealth.
The Archbold resident was volunteering last fall at a packing event in Defiance for Kids Against Hunger. The Nebraska-based organization brings nutritious meals to children and their families in developing countries and in the United States. The work of filling bags with food opened Lauber’s eyes to the constant need.
“It touched me. It was something that was very moving to me. I thought why not bring it to my own community. It’s an amazing event,” she said.
On Sunday, March 20, Lauber will lead an assembly line of dozens of volunteers in a packing event she organized at the Knights of Columbus #7752, 700 W. Lutz Road, in Archbold. She is determined to produce 20,000 packaged, heat-sealed meals during the two-hour event, for distribution mostly to third-world medical clinics, missions, orphanages, and schools. A small percentage will be retained for U.S. disasters and food pantries.
But at 25 cents per meal, Lauber must raise $5,000 to reach her goal. Her efforts since January, which have included personal, church, and business donations, a spaghetti dinner at St. John’s Christian Church in Archbold, a painting class at Just Be Original Fine Arts Academy in Defiance, and a March 6 dodgeball tournament between five teams of fire, police, and sheriff’s emergency personnel, have so far raised $3,400.
Her next fundraising event will be an online Jamberry nail wraps party, but Lauber still needs help.
“There’s a huge need for helping the world hunger. A lot of these children who are starving, they can’t thrive without proper nutrients,” she said.
One problem with raising money may be that Kids Against Hunger, which was established in 1999 and has 75 independent satellite bases around the country, isn’t well-known locally.
“The fundraising has been good, but we’re just not quite there. It’s so new to the area, so people are worrying about (its legitimacy),” Lauber said.
The donations purchase rice, soy, dried vegetables, and a mineral vitamin powder to be packed into plastic bags that each hold six meals. The donations are raised on a local level for packing events in that area.
The Kids Against Hunger satellite opened in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2011 will provide the food items for Lauber’s packing event. Since it opened, the satellite has packed over two million meals using volunteers of all ages.
“It’s probably one of the best cross-generational events that I’ve ever seen,” said Jana Thompson, the satellite’s executive director. “It’s very family-friendly, and it’s a way to serve the common good. I don’t know anything that in such a short amount of time makes such an impact.”
Thompson said the meals are scientifically designed to be used in any culture, “and it can literally mean the difference between life and death.”
This is the organization’s first packing event hosted in Archbold, and Lauber would like it to become an annual event.
“It’s bringing awareness to the area of what this organization is, and we look for it to be a good success,” she said. “We need to be able to do this.”
Donations can be made at www.kah-fortwayne.org. Specify the donation for the Archbold event.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.