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Hundreds pack meals for starving children overseas

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Over 230 volunteers gathered together to prepare 54,864 meals during a Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville Friday. 1,250 volunteers will contribute to a total of five, 2 hour packing sessions preparing 250,000 meals.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Over 230 volunteers gathered together to prepare 54,864 meals during a Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville Friday. 1,250 volunteers will contribute to a total of five, 2 hour packing sessions preparing 250,000 meals.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Over 230 volunteers gathered in prayer around the 54,864 meals they prepared during a Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville Friday. 1,250 volunteers will contribute to a total of five, 2 hour packing sessions preparing 250,000 meals.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Volunteers from WIKA Instrument, Christopher Moore, Cotoyya Williamson, center, and Monique Jones, right, were among the over 230 volunteers who gathered together to prepare 54,864 meals during a Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville Friday. 1,250 volunteers will contribute to a total of five, 2 hour packing sessions preparing 250,000 meals.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Gwinnett County Fairgrounds had music pumping throughout its main building Friday afternoon -- everything from LMFAO and P!nk to the B-52s and Journey.

It wasn't for a party or a concert.

The music was blaring to keep the energy high for the Rising Church's annual "From Hunger to Hope" event benefitting Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committee to feeding starving children hungry in body and spirit.

Hundreds of volunteers flocked to the event eager to pack meals for children overseas, plus each attendee brought a non-perishable item for the Huffman House of Lawrenceville.

"Since all the food we're packing today is going overseas, we also wanted to make sure that we are helping the needs of the local population of Gwinnett," said Kiersten Greeff with Rising Church.

It wasn't just people of the congregation who donated their time. Several companies brought employees to the food packing event.

"This is the (most) fun community relations event I've ever done," said Jan Adams, executive assistant of customer operations at AutoTrader.com. "We've been talking it up about how much fun it is, what it's all about, where the food goes and the wonderful thing is that you see the result at the end of the session."

This year, AutoTrader.com brought close to 80 employees to measure, weigh, seal and pack grains of rice, dried vegetables, soy and protein.

"I think it builds moral (character) because it's tons of fun," she said. "Just look around, the minute the music started up, the hips started swaying and people started singing."

Employees from Lawrenceville-based WIKA were having a great time while getting meals ready for the youngsters.

"We do this because it's the kids all across the world that don't have food and nothing to eat," said Christopher Harris of WIKA. "I think it takes all of us as people to come together for one purpose (like this) -- I think we can be successful."

After the boxes are taped, placed on a pallets and wrapped for shipping, they are delivered overseas to more than 70 countries with children in need, including Haiti, Nicaragua and the Philippines.

But people need to raise the money for the food funds before anything can happen.

"It's really the community that brings Feed my Starving Children here," said Nikki Larson, FMSC MobilePack Supervisor. "(The volunteers) raised all of the money for the ingredients that we brought here. It costs $0.22 a meal. We're going to pack 250,000 meals."

That's equivalent to $50,000 to $60,000 raised for the Lawrenceville event.

Larson believes that FMSC is a great opportunity for those who would like to help those overseas, but can't afford to leave the country.

"The event connects the volunteers to something larger that's going on in another place in the world that we may not think about every day," she said. "People who aren't able to travel are able to be a part of this organization that's doing something in other countries."

After the food is shipped, Larson will update Rising Church on how many meals were sent to which countries.

There are more volunteers packing today and tomorrow at the Fairgrounds, but all of the volunteer slots are full. FMSC is currently taking donations for additional food production costs. To donate, visit fmsc.org/mobilepack/events.