Approximately 700 Church youth, ages 14 through 18, from across Ontario joined forces with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) and other local churches in the Kitchener–Waterloo area on August 13 and 14 to help feed impoverished children in Haiti.
This 1,100 person volunteer partnership resulted in the preparation of 280,000 life-saving meals for shipment to malnourished children in Haiti--enough to feed 750 children a daily hot meal for an entire year. This service was the highlight of the Church youths’ annual four-day Youth Leadership Conference (YLC), held this year at the University of Waterloo.
“We never could have done it without our friends from almost every church in the Kitchener–Waterloo area,” said Charity Fleming, Latter-day Saint volunteer director for the project. Members from local Baptist, Catholic, Church of Christ, Evangelical, Mennonite, Pentecostal and Presbyterian faiths participated.
“It’s the perfect partnership,” said Brad Taylor, a leader for the Church in Hamilton, Ontario, who spearheaded the project. “Our youth are strongly oriented toward giving service, and FMSC has perfectly organized the work to make the most of our volunteer efforts. It’s also important to note my employer, General Mills, helped make this possible with a contribution of $60,000 (USD).”
Taylor also presented a $5,000 (USD) cheque from the Church’s Humanitarian Aid Fund to B. J. Langfeld of FMSC.
In cooperation with FMSC, Starfish Ministries Canada paid all shipping costs and accompanied the shipment to its final destination, ensuring the food reaches the people in need. The meals prepared at this event were shipped to Haiti the next day.
The youth embraced this year’s YLC theme: “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day” (D&C 4:2).
“We worked so hard, but it was rewarding work, and after three hours we produced an amazing amount of meals for those who truly need it,” said 14-year-old Fernando Cabrera of Milton, Ontario.
Ashley Fuller, 16, of Mississauga, Ontario, grew emotional during the project. “I started to cry when I saw the video of who our meals are going to. There is so much need, and we felt inspired as we did the work.”
Fifteen-year-old Ainsley Parker of Burlington, Ontario, said, “At the end of our shift, the staff provided statistics to help us measure the impact of our time. They also explained their broad reach and how many lives we touched through our efforts. I am so thankful for this opportunity to make life a bit better for those who are suffering. To be a part of this is both humbling and incredibly satisfying.”
As we are counselled to help those in need, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency has said, “As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness” (“Happiness, Your Heritage,” October 2008 General Conference).