The Crossing Church packs 250,000 Meals for Haiti
TAMPA -- Children, teens and adults of a variety of races, languages and physical abilities packed more than a quarter million meals for Haiti in the parking lot of The Crossing Church.
The volunteers stood in more than a dozen pre-stocked assembly lines Nov. 5 and filled sealable plastic bags with a mixture of rice, lentils, dried vegetables, vitamins and mineral-rich Himalayan pink salt.
Tables, equipment, ingredients, bags, packing boxes and an intermodal container were delivered to the church and set up in advance by Feeding Children Everywhere, a non-profit humanitarian organization founded in 2010 by 39-year-old Donald Campbell of Sanford.
"Our core belief is that people can change other peoples' lives, and we want to provide a vehicle to do this," Campbell said in a telephone interview.
The 2,000 Tampa volunteers, plus 150 counterparts at the church's Celebration campus packaged the meals, which will be sent to Port-au-Prince, Delmas and Saint-Marc, Haiti.
Each bag holds enough to feed six people. The nutritious concoction will keep for a year and can be boiled or simmered in water.
Norris Brown, The Crossing Church director of missions, said the church wants to help not in a "hit-and-run but a long-term way. By doing that, a culture does change. They feel the love of Christ and it empowers them to believe in themselves."
Brown said the church is not neglecting the local community. The Crossing supports Feeding America Tampa Bay, ECHO, Amazing Love Ministries Inc., Metropolitan Ministries and Clair-Mel Elementary School.
"The church has been a great, major business partner with Clair-Mel Elementary School for more than five years," school Principal Shelly Hermann said.
On Oct. 29, about 300 volunteer members of The Crossing Church sponsored an all-day Clair-Mel block party. They cut hair, mowed lawns, washed cars, manicured nails, performed medical screenings, distributed bags of groceries and gave away clothing and household items to more than 200 families, Hermann said.
Unfortunately, in Haiti, distribution of goods can be more difficult. Food may be used as currency with which men with trucks and guns buy boys and girls for soldiering and prostitution, Campbell said.
To combat these obstacles, The Crossing Church is "working with people who have relationships with people in Haiti," said the Rev. Greg Dumas, pastor.
Feeding Children Everywhere teams up with local partners such as Project 81, which works in Haiti to provide basic essentials to as many people as possible.
A Project 81 co-founder, Jared Brown (no relation to Norris Brown), said that years ago he found an ally in Gaël Jean, one of two deputy mayors working with the main mayor in the municipality of Delmas, a district within Port-au-Prince.
The two men greeted each other warmly at the Nov. 5 event. Brown said Jean has "proven he's a good man with a good heart. We bring him new tents, and he passes them to others, while continuing to live in his old one." He helps make sure food and other goods are distributed to the people who need them.
Jean, whose wife, Carline Jean Pierre, stood beside him, told Dumas and Jared Brown, "I am very happy. I can't forget your help, Brother Jared. You made (an) impact. I thank you for all you do in my city and in the north of my country. You worked hard to find tarps and tents, (helped us pay) for some schools and gave us money for bags of rice."
Alissa Jansen of Lithia and daughters Kaitlyn Jansen, 9, and Sarah Jansen, 7, finished their food-packing shift and were leaving when Kaitlyn insisted on going back to do more.
"It's just not enough to come to church, it's time to serve," agreed her mother.
Feeding Children is a social charity that empowers and mobilizes people to assemble healthy meals for hungry children.