The first weekend in June, more than 15,000 people came together in downtown St. Paul to pack meals for the famine in Somalia. The nonprofit Feed My Starving Children organized the mobile packing event, setting up their warehouse in the RiverCentre.
What’s amazing about this story is that Somali Muslims approached an unapologetically Christian organization to ask what they could do. Feed My Starving Children responded by setting up this emergency event in eight weeks.
We hear so much rhetoric about Muslims. Every time there’s a terrorist attack it revs up again. A message of hate and fear is being spread in the quiet corners of this country, equating a few sick extremists with a religion of millions of people. It’s like holding your Christian neighbor personally responsible for the KKK.
I spent a couple hours of my Sunday afternoon packing food side-by-side with a hijab-clad Somali woman. At one point during the afternoon groups of Somali Muslims filed out for afternoon prayers. We watched the video of food being delivered to Somalia together, and we all shed tears together.
We need to hear more stories like this, stories of Christians and Muslims and whatever other faiths or lack of faiths were there packing food side-by-side.
A Note About Motivation
I’ve heard about the food-packing efforts of Feed My Starving Children before, but this was my first time experiencing it for myself.
I couldn’t help thinking there had to be a more efficient way.
And there is. A mechanized manufacturing process could pack food way more efficiently than barely trained volunteers. But organizations like Feed My Starving Children rely on volunteers to pack the food because it’s a way to engage them more deeply. And deeply engaged volunteers are more likely to donate.
So think about that: It’s more efficient for a nonprofit to pack food inefficiently because it raises more money so they can pack more food.
Kind of makes your brain hurt, doesn’t it?
It also makes my heart hurt a little bit that this is how humanity operates. I don’t care enough to just donate money to feed starving people. But if I spend a few hours packing that food myself, I’m personally and emotionally invested and then I’ll make a donation.
It’s not a slam on Feed My Starving Children, it’s just a depressing reality about what it takes to capture people’s interest.