It has been in the works for four years now, but the board of directors for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) recently made the Tempe packing location its sixth permanent site in the U.S., and the only one outside of Minnesota and the Chicago-metro areas.

The packing site, 7965 S. Priest Drive, opened in June 2010 as a temporary location. There had been mobile packing events at different locations around Phoenix for three years before that.

Volunteer interest and donations grew over time while the board of directors looked on. Because of the continued success, to the tune of 4 million packed and shipped meals, they decided unanimously in late September to make it a permanent location.

"FMSC had no intention of opening a site here," Tempe site director Janine Skinner said. "It is literally due to passion of Arizona volunteers. We pulled the organization to our city. We have generous hearts and hands and we give them time and money."

FMSC is a Christian organization that distributes prepackaged meals of rice, dehydrated vegetables, soy nuggets with additional vitamins and minerals to 70 countries worldwide. It takes a donation of 24 cents to make a single meal, $52 for an entire box of 216 meals, and $88 to feed a single child for a year. The Tempe location has sent meals directly to Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, the Phillipines and North Korea.

Becoming a permanent packing location has opened up two additional times for volunteers, to make a total of nine each week. There are stations within the packing site that volunteers put in each ingredient, seal and box the packages.

To show how popular the Tempe location has become, Skinner said their Saturday packing session is booked until May 2012. Other times are also booked for the next few months. The two new times, on Wednesday and Friday, will be open in November, but she expects the times to fill quickly.

FMSC runs on donations and, most of the time, volunteers will donate when they pack. But FMSC always accepts donations and the amount they receive determines how many per-week packing sessions they can have.

"Donors will give anything they can - change in their pocket or a $100 check," Skinner said. "It goes to show you the grassroots movement of it and how the people love it."

Skinner said she sees it as the next generation of volunteering. Especially since they can see the results and they know what they are doing are literally feeding starving children around the world.

"It kills you to look at these starving kids, but it makes you feel awesome knowing these meals are saving their lives," she said. "It kind of renews your faith in mankind because it's a place where you see people give and their desire to help."

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