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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

072117 world hungerCHARLOTTE — St. Matthew Church held its 15th Annual World Hunger Drive July 15, with 1,500 volunteers packaging 341,280 meals weighing more than 50,000 pounds to feed the hungry in Haiti and Jamaica.
With the 2017 theme “Feeding the Body, Mind & Spirit,” the annual drive also provides items of sustainability such as funding for education, irrigation, a tilapia farm, chickens, physical therapy and more to those in need in Haiti and Jamaica. Food products and packed meals are also shared with local food banks.

Over the years, 1.5 million meals have been packaged by World Hunger Drive volunteers at the Meal Packing Event. This year’s event exceeded its goal of packaging 300,000 meals over the course of four shifts. Volunteers have donated more than 33,000 service hours to the event over the past six years.

The event is conducted with the help of Servants With a Heart, a local non-profit that has packed more than 11.6 million meals working with 71,000-plus volunteers in the past seven years.

072117 hunger2072117 hunger2The annual drive has flourished under the leadership of Monsignor John J. McSweeney, who recently announced his retirement after 42 years of priestly ministry. An anonymous donor made a gift of $250,000, in honor of St. Matthew’s longtime pastor, to establish an endowment for the World Hunger Drive that will sustain the charitable work for years to come.

Mark Creasser, parish volunteer coordinator for the drive, said the event is unique for the parish in that it brings together people from all generations to pack the meals. “Believe it or not, people schedule their vacations around it,” he said.

St. Matthew Parish has current goals of collecting one truckload of meal packages and four truckloads of food and supplies for Haiti, two truckloads of food and supplies for Jamaica, and more than 15,000 pounds of food for local pantries. In addition, one-and-a-half virtual truckloads of sustainability items such as farm products and irrigation supplies are to be sent overseas to those in need.
— Catholic News Herald. Photos by Tara Heilingoetter | Catholic News Herald

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