Fort Stewart Frontline, 14 November 2008
Youth ministries help fight hunger in Florida
The Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Youth Ministries headed to Orlando, Fla., Nov. 7 to help spread good cheer.
Volunteering to assist the Society of St. Andrew, the youth ministries left on its long awaited trip to help feed the hungry, following the SoSA's motto,"Gleaning America's Fields ~Feeding America's Hungry."
Gleaning is a term used in the Bible that means to pick crops left after the harvest.
"We traveled into the late hours of the night to get to our hotel and woke up early the next morning, excited and ready to begin," said Jerry Thompson, Fort Stewart Youth Ministry coordinator.
Bob Gibson, a board member for the SoSA, met the Stewart-Youth, Nov. 8 at the hotel and taught the group the proper way to glean the tangerines.
Barbara Sayles, the Florida Director of SoSA, said that the youth ministry group was one of the nicest groups of students and adult he has ever met.
"It is always wonderful to meet and work with our volunteers," she said.
Thompson said after the group arrived at the privately owned orchard, they met the grove owner, Sandy Chesser.
"She pointed out where the tangerine trees were located and then exclaimed, 'Get ready and go!,'" Thompson said. "The whole group rushed to the nearest tree that they could find and started picking with a purpose. Within minutes the group had several bags full of tangerines."
The group later broke into smaller teams and challenged each other to see who picked the most. The entire youth group, Gibson, and even the bus drivers picked about 3,000 pounds of tangerines, according to Thompson, the equivalent to about 9,000 servings.
The tangerines were put into boxes and taken to a local Orlando food bank, Loaves and Fishes.
"From this experience we learned that we need to bring awareness to our community of the hunger problem in America," Thompson said. "One statistic that stood out to me was the fact that every five seconds around the world another child dies of malnutrition. That statistic just breaks my heart, but it does not have to be that way. There is always something that we can do to help. We can give monetary donations to food banks in America, or ministries like Samaritan's Purse that feeds starving people in other countries."
Thompson said people can help support food drives and can even volunteer to help organizations such as SoSA.
"It is especially important now to give with the holidays quickly approaching," Thompson said. "I remember my mother telling me around the holidays that 'it is always better to give than to receive.' Our Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield youth are learning servant leadership through participation in these types of activities.
The youth minister coordinator said because 28 youth and 11 adults gave up their time and worked hard at it, they helped make a difference.
"I wonder what would happen if everyone would put in that same type of effort and give back to their community, their country and their world," Thompson said.
"My guess is that it would make a difference, both for those we serve, and perhaps much more for those who give. America is a land of plenty, no one should be hungry. Look for opportunities to reach out to those in need and help feed America's hungry."