Prepping meals for the masses

Marion County residents, including some Marion high football players, showed up on Saturday to help pack meals for Haiti. In two hours around 100 youth, youth sponsor and parents packaged around 26,250 meals. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free Press
Marion County residents, including some Marion high football players, showed up on Saturday to help pack meals for Haiti. In two hours around 100 youth, youth sponsor and parents packaged around 26,250 meals. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free Press
Area youth gathered in Marion from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday at the Marion Elementary school to participate in a global and local community event.

“My vision was to do something community wide for the youth, youth sponsors and any parents that wanted to come, that hasn’t really ever been done in this community before. I had a connection at Lifeline so I called them up,” said Chris Ensley, Marion Christian Church, and an organizer of the event. “They said the greatest need is in Haiti and gave us an audacious goal of having 100 youth pack 26,250 meals over two hours.”

Lifeline Christian Mission came out and set up an opportunity for youth to pack meals to be sent to Haiti. Lifeline does many things through its organization including church planting, home buiding and more. One of their largest programs is meal packing.

“We’ve been around since 1980 with mission sites in Haiti and throughout Latin America plus the navajo nation in Winslow, Arizona. We also do disaster relief like when Hurricane Harvey happened in Texas,” said Project Manager Rob McCabe. “One of our ministries is to provide food anywhere in the world that they may need it. That is why we are here today.”

“I went to my church leaders and talked to some other pastors at other churches and we all agreed to do it together. We are representing about 4-5 churches here, the area ministerial alliance came and many others including some of the Marion High School football players,” said Ensley.

The organization will travel anywhere in the United States and Canada to provide the opportunity for groups to participate. And anyone from young to old can help.

Cheerful faces worked hard to fill the meal bags. The volunteers were rewarded with a grilled meal and homemade donuts. They also got to enjoy a program with Christian comedian and illusionist Jared Hall. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free Press
Cheerful faces worked hard to fill the meal bags. The volunteers were rewarded with a grilled meal and homemade donuts. They also got to enjoy a program with Christian comedian and illusionist Jared Hall. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free Press
“Today we are doing a little over 26,000 meals in about 2 hours. It’s easy and it’s fun, and any church can step up to do it. There’s a cost to pay for the ingredients but a little bit of money can go a long way,” said McCabe. “It’s for all ages. We can even have toddlers, elderly and anyone confined to a wheelchair help us.”

Not only did the volunteers work quickly to assemble the meals, they seemed to enjoy doing it.

“This was really fun. I told myself I needed to take off work so I could come and do this with my youth group.The ministry that does this is really cool,” said Caleb Kliewer, 12th grade.

Iris Klein, sophomore from Hillsboro, said, “Sara Jo (youth pastor) told us it was a way to get involved in helping children.”

The group packed the bags by an assembly line of sorts and filled each bag with the same ingredients in the same order. Rice, beans, protein powder and dried vegetables got funnelled into each bag. The bags were then measured, sealed and loaded into a box. The boxes were loaded straight onto the truck to be sent directly to Haiti.

“We can do each meal including delivery for starting at about twenty three cents each for global sites like Haiti. And we have other recipes for local food banks, schools and homeless shelters such as mac n cheese and oatmeal. A local meal, such as oatmeal, would only be fifteen cents,” said McCabe.

After packing all of the meals, the leaders provided a grilled meal for the volunteers. A catering company from Wichita provided some donuts for dessert.

At 7 p.m., the volunteers and others in the community were invited to a free show featuring Jared Hall at the Marion High School Performing Arts Center.

According to his website, Hall uses illusions and comedy to present the gospel of Jesus Christ in relevant and engaging ways. He did this and kept the audience captivated for over an hour as he performed illusions and comedy.

“I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go. But I’m glad I did, because it was fascinating,” said Tristan Francis of Goessel, sixth-grader.

For more information on Lifeline Christian Mission check out their website Lifeline.org.

To learn more about Jared Hall, go to his website jaredhall.com.