Sanford Rotary clubs send meals around the world

Mar. 17, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

In systematic fashion, Lee County residents scooped and stuffed bags of food during the Stop Hunger Now event at the Sanford Lions Club Fairgrounds Saturday, creating 26,000 meals to be distributed around the world.

This is the sixth year the three Sanford Rotary Clubs — San-Lee Sunrise Rotary Club, Jonesboro Rotary Club, Sanford Rotary Club — have sponsored the event, said Dr. Mitch Reese, chairman of the Stop Hunger Now program for Rotary Club of Sanford.

“Our goal is to send these meals overseas and, in particular, to schools,” Reese said. “Our goal is for the kids to go to school, be fed and maybe take meals home to their families. We’re feeding the mind and the body.”

With every 1,000 meals prepared, one volunteer rushed to a golden gong to inform his or her fellow volunteers on their progress, halting the program for just a moment before it kickstarted back into gear.

Stop Hunger Now System Program Manager Ryan Howe said Saturday’s volunteers did an excellent job keeping pace and staying energized throughout the process. Nearly 100 local residents turned out to help during two-hour shifts.

“It’s a great way to get involved in your community and neighbors to do good and help others dealing with crisis,” he said.

Abbey Beahm and her 16-year-old daughter, Hannah, both said they had a fun time packaging the food.

“I’ve done it once before with my church,” Hannah Beahm said. “It’s been good and I’d encourage others to participate.”

This was the fifth year of participation for San-Lee Sunrise Rotarian Terry Mullen, who called the day delightful.

“It’s doing something good,” he said. “And it’s fun.”

His wife, Deb, said it was her first time and that was glad she could contribute to a worthy cause. 

With this year’s total number of meals prepared, Reese said the local Rotary Clubs had provided more than 150,000 meals in the six years.

“You are helping lots of families and it’s a good way to be active,” he said. “There are good feelings when you help those less fortunate. It’s saving lives.”