- (Photo:Facebook/NorthRidge Church)
A Michigan church made their vision a reality when they gathered thousands of volunteers to prepare over two million meals in three days to feed hungry children around the world last weekend.
Pastor Brad Powell of NorthRidge Church led the "2 Million Meals" project with nearly 9,000 helpers who assembled the meals consisting of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and 21 vitamins and minerals. The meals will be shipped to El Salvador, Haiti and the Philippines, where 5,560 children will be able to eat a meal every day for one year.
"The truth is, this has been an amazing experience because of the impact it's going to cause in the lives of every child and every person who's going to eat these meals," said Powell, according to ABC News. "But I think you can see from the energy in this room and all that's going on it's going to change more than just the lives of those who will eat this food."
The effort began during the holiday season last year when the megachurch raised over $400,000 to fund the supplies and food. To reach their goal, the project required volunteers to work 11, two-hour shifts from Friday to Sunday at a 65,000 square-foot convention center in Novi, Mich.
Local Girl Scouts troops and National Guard units were also on hand to help as well as the Feed My Starving Children organization, a Coon Rapids, Minn., nonprofit that sends similar meals to impoverished children from countries affected by natural disasters and places enduring economic despair.
In 2011, Powell also led a similar but smaller undertaking when he directed 5,000 volunteers as they packed 1 million meals in the same time period.
"When I first cast the vision, I wasn't sure what would happen. It was big, bold, and unlike anything we had done before. Not only did we reach our goal…we blew it away," said Powell, on NorthRidge's website.
Among the volunteers was Gabe Solak, 12, who said he wanted to be selfless and do something for someone else for once.
"I heard about all these kids who were starving and are hungry, and I wanted to help them. I'm very compassionate," said Solak.
Sgt. Stacy Price shared the same sentiment as she volunteered with a few other soldiers in the effort.
"I got to meet some amazing people here. Hopefully, I've met some more friends," said Price. "The experience was great. The people were very upbeat. Everyone was smiling and having a good time."
Northridge is a nondenominational Christian church, with two satellite locations in Michigan that draws an average of 9,600 worshippers each weekend.