If you heard a gong ringing outside Lee Hall anytime from 2 p.m. till 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, it meant that another 1,000 meals had been packaged by student and staff volunteers at the Stop Hunger Now (SHN) event.
Volunteers arrived in room 412 of Lee Hall, and after putting on hairnets and sanitizing their hands, received instructions from Richmond SHN Program Manager Matt Anlyan. Once Anlyan pressed “play” on his iPod and the gong was struck, the room erupted in cheers and the volunteers promptly got to work packaging 10,000 meals.
The room was set up like an assembly line, with volunteers positioned at four different stations, each having a different task to perform. The first station had students pouring dehydrated vegetarian food through a large funnel, filling a small bag halfway. The bag was then handed over to the next station, which weighed the bag and filled it with rice until it weighed between 379-384 grams, according to Anlyan. It was then handed off to another station, which sealed the bags and handed them off to the boxing station, which packaged them.
Each bag contained six meals at a cost of 25 cents per meal, according to Anlyan.
According to SHN’s website, “Stop Hunger Now’s meal packaging program provides volunteers the opportunity to package dehydrated, high protein, and highly nutritious meals that are used in crisis situations and in school feeding programs for schools and orphanages in developing countries around the world,” according to the group’s website.
SHN is an international, non-profit organization whose goal is to provide lifesaving aid to countries outside the U.S. that need help, according to Anlyan.
“We’re also in the business of improving people’s lives,” said Anlyan.
In addition to providing food, SHN also sends medical supplies, school supplies, computers and anything else that can help provide relief to 43 different countries, according to Anlyan.
The event was part of National Student Day and was presented by the UMW Bookstore and the Center for Honor, Leadership and Service in a “celebration of the students and all their volunteer efforts,” said Dustin Curtis, operations manager of the UMW Bookstore.
A total of 70 students signed up to volunteer, with others coming in out of curiosity as they heard the gong ringing while they walked past Lee Hall, according to Curtis.
Freshman major Maura Slocum said she volunteered because she is “really into helping out people not as lucky as I am, and since I’m here, I might as well help out.”
Also volunteering at the event were two UMW police officers, Captain Mark Sander and Officer Jeff Perry.
“We’re part of the UMW community too, and we thought this was something positive,” said Sander. “We like being with the students.”
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s an easy way to do a lot and give back,” said Anlyan.
Kathy Sandor, retail operations manager of the UMW Bookstore, expressed her approval of the event and suggested that the Bookstore should sponsor another SHN event next year.
As the gong struck for the last time, the volunteers filtered out of the room exhausted, yet satisfied, after packaging 10,000 meals.