Seventy five Franklin area youth and more than 60 adults participated in this year’s 30-Hour Famine event, a worldwide movement to help fight global hunger, collecting a record amount of food and funds for local and global relief agencies.
By the final count, participants collected $2,247 for World Vision, a national relief agency that focuses on feeding the world’s poorest children. On a local level, the students raised $1,031 in donations and more than 8,000 cans of food for Franklin relief agency CareNet — all on an empty stomach.
World Vision has organized the event since its beginning in 1992 and tasks young people to go without food for 30 hours while raising goods for hunger relief agencies. By going without food, the students get a taste of what many of the world’s poorest people face on a daily basis.
Franklin participants have participated in the 30-Hour Famine since 1998. Since 2002, they have collected $51,000 for World Vision. More than 42,000 lbs. of food has been collected for CareNet since 2006.
“It’s been great. We have gone over our goal,” said Rev. Margaret Freeman of Franklin First United Methodist. This year, organizers set a goal to raise 6,000 cans of food for CareNet.
“I am so proud of these young people for all their hard work and for exceeding our goal. It’s great to see how they can make a difference and to raise their awareness about issues related to hunger,” said Freeman. Freeman said students get a lesson in the ways of hunger each year. “We realize how much we have and how much God calls us to help others in need,” she said.
Famine funds contribute to World Vision’s response in areas where famine, conflict and other crises make children vulnerable to hunger and preventable disease. This year the organization will focus most of its efforts in Niger, Haiti, the Philippines, Honduras, Mali, Zambia, Tanzania, Myanmar, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This year, the event takes place in 21 countries.
For many Franklin youth, this year’s Famine was not their first, but proved to be just as humbling.
“I love doing this,” said 15- year-old Raven Casada. “This is my fourth year. We always learn a lot. The fact that I have so much and many other people have so little motivates me. It’s nice to be able to donate to them.”
Casada said that in her four years of experience with the event, she has learned that staying busy often staves off the hunger. “When you stop staying busy that’s when you start getting hungry.”
The task of collecting goods was no walk in the park, said organizers on Saturday. Students collected donations throughout Macon County during the famine, in neighborhoods and at grocery stores. “We go all over the place hoping to get something,” remarked volunteer Joe Doster.
Cans of food and toiletry items were dropped off at First United Methodist Church, Dryman’s Chapel United Methodist Church, Bethel United Methodist Church, Hickory Knoll United Methodist Church, Clarks Chapel United Methodist Church, Louisa Chapel United Methodist Church and Bryson City United Methodist Church.
“I just feel like it’s a good cause,” said Kate Jones, 14, who has also participated in the Famine for four years. “We’'re helping people. It’s always this fun and I’m always this hungry, but I think each year it gets easier.”
Jones encourages youth to participate in the future. “Definitely eat before you start,” she laughed.
When the Famine was over, the students got their fill of a pot luck dinner that had just about everything from burgers and hot dogs to casseroles.
For more information on how to get involved In the future, contact Rev. Margaret Freeman at Franklin First United Methodist Church at (828)524-3010, or visit www.30hourfamine.org or call 1-800-7- FAMINE for more information about the 30 Hour Famine.