Changing the world from Phoenix — who wants in? - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Changing the world from Phoenix — who wants in?

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 12:49 pm | Updated: 1:59 pm, Tue Oct 14, 2014.

"Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor” (Proverbs 22:9).

I typically spend a lot of time in this column revealing my dirty laundry. An imperfect follower of the Perfect One, I mess up a lot — the grateful recipient of God’s unending grace. So I hope you’ll indulge me in a moment, because mama’s got braggin’ rights.

My wee daughter, Sarah, brought home an assignment from school during which she had to explain what she would do if she was elected president. Our tender-hearted “baby” wrote, “I’d give food to Feed My Starving Children (FMSC).”

Cue the, “awwwwws.” Sarah for President! For years, she’d heard about her bigger siblings getting to pack at FMSC, our favorite charity. FMSC gathers communities together to pack food to ship to families in need across the globe. I remember the first time we volunteered years ago at Corpus Christi. I’d signed on to volunteer because children were invited to pitch in. I admit we’re one of those families that points out how blessed we are when so many others go to bed with grumbling tummies. I don’t want my kids to feel guilty — I just want them to embody gratitude, and learn the true path to contentment. It’s found by sharing with — and serving — “the least of us.”

After that first session — our family was hooked. Standing alongside others we made fast friends, jamming to rock music and amping up our speed in friendly competition to see who could pack the most boxes. The camaraderie swells in no time — everyone yelling, Chicken! Veggies! Soy! Rice! (those are the life-saving ingredients packed with love, designed to reverse the ravages of malnutrition). At the end of the session, FMSC always shows a video showcasing images of young children whose lives have been saved by FMSC. When my son first watched, he turned to me and said, “Mom. Of all the times you’ve tried to talk to us about poverty — I get it now.” Gulp.

There is something magical about scooping the actual food that will nourish someone in both body and soul — someone for whom food also represents the real “bread of life” — Jesus. Volunteering for FMSC is an experience rich with blessings, too, for those packing food to send to others in places like Cambodia and Haiti — because the very act of working in community invites the presence of God. It reminds us of our collective call to be His hands and feet. The fact that packing is pure adrenalin-pumping FUN is a bonus.

Little Miss Sarah got to volunteer for the very first time this past December, and now she’s hooked, too. Are you ready to “Change the World from Phoenix?” On April 12 and 13, FMSC invites you to fund or pack 1 million meals at the Phoenix Convention Center. Because we’re rock star givers in Arizona, FMSC’s efforts here have been so successful, an expansion is under way to broaden the reach.

We hope your family joins ours — and I promise your children will be impacted by this awesome experience. Chicken! Veggies! Soy! Rice! We’ll see you there — I’ll be the one in the hairnet.

• AFN columnist and contributor Diane Meehl and her family live in Ahwatukee Foothills. They worship at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Reach her at dianemeehl@gmail.com.

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