By Nathan Whalen, OSV
SEATTLE – About 200 volunteers descended on St. Joseph Parish’s social hall in Seattle to assemble 72,000 meals that will be delivered to hungry families in Haiti.
“It was really a lot of fun. People left saying, ‘Sign us up for the next one,'” said Sister Coralie Muzzy, who helped organize the event that was sponsored by her congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.
Advertised in parish bulletins around Seattle, the Packathon included six two-hour sessions July 21-22 where participants assembled meals of rice, dehydrated vegetables, beans and vitamin powder.
The ingredients were provided by Feed the Hunger, a Christian ministry based in North Carolina whose website says it provides hunger relief, school supplies and Bibles internationally and to the poorest areas in the United States.
According to the organization’s website, each shift of a Packathon “begins with a brief instructional period so volunteers clearly understand the various tasks and ends with a short time of celebration over how many life-saving meals were packed during that shift.”
“During a two-hour shift, teams of volunteers assemble four ingredients: a carbohydrate (rice or pasta), a protein (soy or dehydrated pinto beans), dehydrated vegetables, and vitamin powder,” the site said. “These ingredients, which together provide complete nutrition, are packaged in six-serving meal packets that are then weighed, sealed, and boxed. Packathons take place in a friendly, high-energy environment, and we welcome participants ages 5 to 105!”
While most Packathons happen on the East Coast, this year included events in Boise, Idaho, in April and Wenatchee, Washington, in June.
“When I heard about the one in Wenatchee, I thought, ‘Why not have one in Seattle?'” Sister Coralie told Northwest Catholic, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Seattle.
The Seattle Packathon meals will go to Milot, Haiti, where two Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace served from 2009-20. Their work included organizing men to build homes with concrete and teaching staff at Hôpital du Sacré Coeur how to use computers, Sister Coralie said.
The Packathon was so successful that Sister Coralie thinks another one might be scheduled.
“People loved it,” she said. “Everybody was laughing, smiling and working hard.”
Nathan Whalen writes for Northwest Catholic, the magazine and website of the Archdiocese of Seattle.
For more information about Feed the Hunger, including how to host a Packathon, go to https://www.feedthehunger.org.
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