The Ahwatukee Foothills Chapter of the National Charity League believes in mother-daughter philanthropic giving and hands-on volunteering, and one of its longest-running activities is the annual Feed My Starving Children MobilePack.
The local chapter will be joining many other Ahwatukee and East Valley non-profits, businesses and individuals volunteering to pack MannaPack meals at the Phoenix Convention Center July 29-31. Feed My Starving Children is aiming to pack 1 million meals for distribution to children worldwide.
The National Charity League’s Ahwatukee chapter participated in only one other MobilePack, but its members have been supporting the Christian non-profit organization for 10 of the chapter’s 12 years.
“Since 2014, we’ve donated 1,068 hours to Feed My Starving Children,” said Melissa Singer Pressman, the chapter’s vice-president of philanthropy.
For this MobilePack, 58 pairs of mothers and daughters are volunteering, among them Singer-Pressman and her two daughters, Madeline, 15, and Meredith, 13, both Ahwatukee Basis students.
“I think Feed My Starving Children is a great opportunity to open the eyes of our own children to what’s going on around the world, and because it focuses on feeding children,”she said. “Its fun to do, and at the end, we learn the (MannaPacks) group tallies and shift tallies and sometimes that’s just amazing!”
MannaPacks are small pouches of either rice or potato mixes that include vitamins, minerals and dehydrated vegetables.
Their Potato D pack is specially-formulated to help recovery from diarrhea, the number one cause of death of malnourished children.
Children’s Dental Village Pediatric Dentistry of Tempe is assembling its employees and dentists and expects 20 or more to attend the MobilePack – the clinic’s first, though employees often volunteer for local packing efforts.
“Our team enjoys the camaraderie of doing this together,” said spokesperson Leslie Barrett. “It’s also one of the opportunities where we can include our spouses and children.”
Former Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Russ Ortiz is another long-time supporter of Feed My Starving Children, along with his friend LJ Richardson, vice president of operations for Ortiz’ not-for-profit golf apparel company, 2GG Apparel, of Mesa. They already have their two-hour packing time assignments.
“This is our second time being a part of the big meal packing downtown, though we’ve done many more at the FMSC packing facility. Between our family and friends, we’ll have 30 volunteers at the meal packing,” said Richardson.
“Because Feed My Starving Children is our primary benefactor from the sale of our men’s clothing,” he added, “it’s only fitting we get involved in as many ways as possible.”
His company donates 20 percent of each golf shirt sale to the nonprofit.
Tempe’s Desert Cross Lutheran Church is one of many area churches readying for MobilePack.
Associate pastor Matt Dobyns said the church was involved with Feed My Starving Children before the organization had a permanent Arizona packing facility.
“Years ago, all Feed My Starving Children packing events were MobilePacks. This year, as with previous years, we’ve opened this event to anybody in our congregation who wishes to serve,” said Dobyns.
“We’ll have children serving alongside senior members of the Desert Cross community and we love this dynamic because in many ways we are training young ones to serve and be generous, while deepening the passion our senior members have for this ministry,” he added.
Joy Petroff, Desert Cross team leader for the Turn Hunger into Hope-Phoenix MobilePack, said her church has secured 100 volunteer spots this year because last year’s volunteers were so energized by their experience.
“Last year we had around 75 participants, so we’ve upped the team size to allow more folks to join in,” said Petroff. “When I began volunteering with Feed My Starving Children, I bought a t-shirt that stated, ‘One in seven children go hungry everyday.’ The current t-shirt states ‘One in nine children go hungry everyday.’ That’s a wonderful change in six years,” Petroff said, adding:
“And, it’s fun to pack, joining with friends, family and strangers to be a part of ‘when I was hungry, you fed me.’”
Devon and Cindy Dickinson of Chandler will participate in their second MobilePack and they’ve recruited a group to join them.
“I’m bringing 50 people to pack at the million meal pack. At first I thought it would be hard to find 50 volunteers, but I soon found out that it is easy because people are excited to come,” said Cindy Dickinson.
The Dickinsons and their children Kylie, 14, Jake, 13, Nate, 11, and Sophie, 8, have been year-round supporters of Feed My Starving Children for three years.
“I first found out about Feed My Starving Children when my daughter’s Girl Scout team went to pack. Later this summer, I’ll be bringing my son’s soccer team to pack. It will be a great fundraiser and team-building event,” Cindy Dickinson said.
“I love participating in this event because it’s something my entire family can be involved with, even my young children! It is an opportunity to serve locally and impact the world right from Arizona,” she added.
On July 31, Feed My Starving Children will host a half-hour 9 a.m. worship service at the Convention Center, prior to the 10 a.m. packing. The featured speaker is a pastor from the Ghana Christian Mission, one of the organization’s feeding site partners in 70 countries.
According to Feed My Starving Children, last year more than 1 million volunteers nationwide packed nearly 273 million nutritious meals, which are then delivered to orphanages, schools, clinics and feeding programs “to break the cycle of poverty.”
The Christian non-profit, founded in 1987, spends more than 90 percent of its total donations on feeding the hungry.
In 2015, MobilePack events drew 800,000 volunteers in 35 states who packed more than 64 million MannaPack meals, the organization said.