Hilmar Covenant Church needs about 2,000 volunteers to help pack about 350,000 meals for hungry children around the world Jan. 18-19.
It's the second year the church has partnered with Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis that puts together packets of dried food and delivers them to orphanages, schools and medical facilities in 70 poor countries.
When reconstituted, the meals of soy, vegetables, a chicken-flavored broth with vitamins and minerals, and rice turn into a nutritionally sound stewlike dinner.
Last year, the church raised $69,000 and packed 303,000 meals, more than double its initial goal of $29,000. About 28,000 of those meal packets went to the Philippines, and the rest went to North Korean orphanages.
The goal this year was to raise $110,000 for 500,000 meals. About $66,000 has been raised, so the church scaled back its meal orders.
"It's been a little harder this year to raise the money," said Dan Johnson, Hilmar Covenant's associate pastor who oversees the event. "We had three generous matching grants, and we've matched all of them, but the economy has been problematic."
"The resources people had last year just weren't there this year for several of our major donors," he said.
He said the church will continue to raise money for the program and hopes to have the funds to pack the additional 150,000 meal packets later this spring.
The church is signing up volunteers for two-hour shifts for the upcoming packing event. Volunteers will work in teams of 20 for the shifts: from 2 to 4 p.m., 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. or 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 18, or from 9 to 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 2 to 4 p.m. or 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19.
To sign up, visit www.hilmarcovenant.org, find and click on the Feed My Starving Children display in the large side-scrolling window, then click on the "Sign up to pack here" link. To make a tax-deductible donation, write a check to Hilmar Covenant Church with "FMSC" on the memo line and send it to the church at P.O. Box 340, Hilmar 95324.
The church is at 20056 American Ave. For more information, call (209) 668-0400.
Modesto Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2012.