Volunteers packed nearly 90,000 meals for the poor during the House of Mercy’s fourth annual “Campaign to End Hunger” fundraiser and meal-packing event, Oct. 18 at the Manassas Park Community Center.
Although falling short of the nonprofit humanitarian organization’s goal of 150,000 meals packed during this year’s all-day event, the total is still “a success in our book,” said House of Mercy Executive Director Ann Cimini. “Through the generosity of hundreds of people and our corporate sponsors, we’ve been able to serve the poorest of God’s children,” she said.
The agency, located in Manassas, Va., shipped 78,408 of the meals to the Father Beiting Appalachian Mission Center, which will distribute them in Christmas baskets to families in need in Kentucky’s impoverished Appalachian region, Cimini said.
The center, located in Louisa, Ky., is an interdenominational nonprofit organization that has served about 10,000 Kentucky mountain residents, said Cimini. The Father Beiting Appalachian Mission Center, which is an apostolate of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington, Ky., distributes food, clothing and furniture to low-income families in its area and provides four charity thrift stores with donated merchandise for sale, she said.
Appalachia’s poor were the designated primary recipients of meals packed during this year’s campaign, held in conjunction with events for the United Nations’ World Food Day, Oct. 16.
In addition, 11,196 meals of beans and rice packed during Campaign to End Hunger 2014 are bound this month for two impoverished villages in Honduras, Cimini said. The campaign goal was to pack 30,000 meals for those communities, but achieving that, along with this year’s objective of 120,000 meals to Appalachia, depended upon how many people signed up to pack meals during the event, she said.
More than 270 volunteers participated in this year’s Campaign to End Hunger, including 207 who each paid the event’s $35 fundraising fee per two-hour shift to pack meals during the campaign, said Cimini. The event had 320 meal-packing shifts available, she said.
Cimini said that she is disappointed, but not surprised at the lower participation than organizers hoped for. “We changed our fundraising strategy this year for the event,” she said. “Although Campaign to End Hunger has always been a fundraiser, we’ve had enough corporate sponsors in the past to allow the majority of folks willing to pack meals during the campaign to pack at no cost. We lost sponsors this year, and, with it, the capacity for us to offer the free packing.”
The 2014 campaign raised about $25,000 in contributions from individual participants and corporate sponsors, Cimini said. Contributions covered the event’s costs, including raw food ingredients, packing supplies, advertising, fees and shipping, she said. Remaining contributions after campaign expenses are met will help fund the agency’s operating costs and community programs throughout the year, Cimini said.
Campaign sponsors included Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Bristow, Va., and National Vendor Management Services, Inc. (NVMS), TS&T (Traffic Systems and Technology) and Able Moving and Storage, all located in Manassas, Va. Several local businesses also provided meal packers for the event, said Cimini.
“We are so grateful to our sponsors and participants for making this event possible,” she said. “All of these organizations and people understand that the health of us as a town and a community depends on all of us acting together to assist those who need our help.”
To learn more about the House of Mercy, call 703-659-1636 or visit www.houseofmercyva.org.
About the House of Mercy
The House of Mercy is a Catholic-based humanitarian nonprofit organization located in Manassas, Va. Founded in 2005 by the Missionaries of Our Lady of Divine Mercy, the organization is dedicated to serving the poor, marginalized and forgotten by sharing the message of God’s mercy to others and providing food, clothing and other donated items free to those in need. The House of Mercy also offers a variety of community programs designed to help local families improve their quality of life.
Written by Val Wallace of House of Mercy