By Julia Mericle
On Saturday, St. Bonaventure University students and local community members donned hairnets and rubber gloves to take part in a food-packing event coordinated by BonaResponds and “Feed My Starving Children.”
“Feed My Starving Children” is a nonprofit organization committed to hand packing meals that are delivered to hungry children in nearly 70 countries.
Finance professor Jim Mahar helped plan the event that produced 108,864 meals to send. Mahar, who doubles as the coordinator for BonaResponds, explains that the number can be translated into enough food to ensure that almost 300 people will be able to have a meal every day for a year.
“Months and months down the road, the benefits of the work the volunteers put forth will still be being felt, or maybe I should say tasted,” Mahar said.
Mahar thanked everyone who helped make the event possible and noted that the volunteers should be proud of what they have accomplished.
“It is not some idle sound bite to say that the food has the power to be life changing.”
Junior Hannah McGrath signed up for the event as a member of the history club to fulfill the service requirement.
McGrath was impressed by the amount of volunteers who showed up to participate in the event. Not only Bonaventure students took time out of their weekend; members of the surrounding community helped out as well.
She said she was surprised at how quickly the volunteers worked and how much they were able to get done.
“If this event is offered next year I would love to go back and work all the shifts, not just one,” McGrath said.
According to Mahar, in the weeks leading up to the food-packing event some friends of the BonaResponds organization from different parts of Haiti saw the plans for sending food on Facebook and asked if BonaResponds would send some of the food to the children in their schools and orphanages.
According to Reed McElfresh, a graduate student and student leader of BonaResponds, the student disaster relief group has been heavily involved with Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, when volunteers sent school supplies, shoes, books and food.
McElfresh had first hand experience working with these people over winter break, when he and other leaders traveled to Haiti for 13 days. He said the trip showed him how great the need is and hopes that sending food from this event to the children there will affirm BonaResponds’ dedication to Haiti.
However, money is a big factor in making this event happen at Bonaventure again. While the meals only cost 22 cents each, expenses add up quickly to a total of an estimated $25,000.
“Even after several fund raisers and much generosity by many of our supporters we are short several thousand dollars on the event and need to continue fund raising for a few weeks to pay it off,” Mahar said.
He encourages any students who would like to help fund raise to contact the BonaResponds leaders, such as himself or McElfresh.
“Myself and the other leaders who organized this food-packing day will be graduating in May, so we will need others to step up to the plate,” McElfresh said.