There are no sandwiches with the crusts cut off. No apples, no juice boxes or cookies.
The children who eat these meals are often so malnourished, American kids’ favorites would make them sick.
About 775 people gathered Saturday in shifts throughout the day and evening at Christ Community Chapel in Aurora to package what those hungry children could eat — bags of dry mixes that are boiled in water.
Feed My Starving Children — a Christian nonprofit group that’s been helping hungry children for nearly 30 years — will distribute the 147,744 meals packed Saturday to kids in one of about 70 countries it serves.
Cuyahoga Falls resident Aldo Deiulis worked in the church gym Saturday near 1,000-pound bins of bulk rice and bulk soy. He and his family helped divvy up the ingredients into small 10-pound containers.
People at other nearby tables funneled those ingredients — along with dehydrated vegetables and vitamins — into smaller, sealed bags that will be shipped around the world.
The Deiulis family came into the day expecting to do good work, but Aldo said he was surprised by the feeling in the room.
“I would almost call it electric,” Deiulis said. “It’s great coming together for community in the name of Christ.”
“Rethink church,” is the motto on Christ Community Chapel’s website. “Don’t go through the motions,” it says. “There’s more to God than a religious experience.”
Saturday was the third time members of Christ Community Chapel — a nondenominational Christian church with congregations in Highland Square, Stow, Hudson and Aurora — packed meals for Feed My Starving Children.
High school athletic teams, members of Rotary clubs, Girl Scouts and other groups not affiliated with the church pitched in Saturday. And parishioners, children and adults, paid for the meals through donations, lemonade stands and car washes.
Nicole Coy, who is the children’s ministry coordinator at the Aurora campus, first packed meals last year on the church’s Hudson campus with her daughter, Abigail Coy, 6.
Like Deiulis, the hands-on experience impacted her in ways she did not expect.
“This pulls at your heart strings,” she said.
Before they begin packing meals, all volunteers watch a video about a Ugandan boy named Emmanuel, or “Emma” for short. He is the youngest of four children. After the siblings’ mom dies giving birth, it is largely up to Emma’s 11-year-old brother to find food for the family.
When Emma was 2˝ years old, he weighed only 9 pounds. His brothers were malnourished, too.
The video shows the children eating the food packed for them by other volunteers and reveals the transformation nutrition has made.
Emma looks like any healthy American child.
Coy could have packed meals on her own the first time.
“But it’s helpful for me as a parent to show Abigail there are children who don’t sit down for dinner at a table every night or don’t get to say they’re tired of this or that,” she said. “It’s a learning experience.”
Coy helped organize Saturday’s event. And her husband, Ryan, worked alongside Abigail packing up meals for children like Emma who rely on them.
Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or email@example.com. Follow Amanda on Twitter at agarrett@abj.