Volunteers send holiday message through meals - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Volunteers send holiday message through meals

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Dozens of people in Athens took time Friday to help starving families around the world. The idea started with the local Kiwanis Club.

"This food will be going to orphanages, to schools, in places like Guatemala, Haiti, Belize," explains club president Stephanie Linkous. "We just thought we would go a little bit above and beyond what we normally do."

They raised $4500 to buy the supplies from Stop Hunger Now, an international organization with an Atlanta distribution center.

Each meal consists of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and flavoring mix. The food transports easily and stays fresh.

Grain by grain, pound by pound, volunteers stuffed bags and filled boxes with more than 15,000 meals. Linkous was pleased to see the 100 or so volunteers who showed up.

"We did exceed the number of people we were expecting, just as we exceeded the amount of money we were going to raise," says Linkous. "Athens is such a giving community."

Each bag contains six meals, and each meal only costs around 29 cents. All you have to do is add water.

Volunteers were made up of Kiwanis Club members and Tennessee Wesleyan College students, like Will Jones and MacKenzie Hodge. They started doing volunteer work when they were kids.

"I wanted to help out to get people the food who don't have food," says Jones.

"I think as you get older it becomes more evident, the impact that you're making on other peoples' lives," adds Hodge.

Linkous hopes their attitudes and actions inspire other people.

"We're also hoping that we're going to be able to raise awareness and get other organizations and other civic clubs in the area to do the same thing. That way we'll have a huge impact," says Linkous.

The goal was to box the meals in three hours. The volunteers finished in less than two hours, packing a grand total of 15,336 meals. To put this in perspective, nearly 11,000 meals feed one person three times a day, every day, for ten years.
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