Four congregations based in Minnesota recently came together to pack around 100,000 meals for the needy, with half of them slated to be sent overseas to help those impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Bethel Lutheran Church of Rochester hosted the meal-packing event last Saturday, with 250 volunteers packing the meals on behalf of Food for Kidz and the Channel One Regional Food Bank.
Local congregations that aided the event included Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Holy Spirit Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Bruce Gudlin, an organizer of the event, told The Christian Post that he believes the charity effort went “very well.” He said the volunteers were divided into “several two-hour shifts.”
Half of the meals will be distributed locally, while the other half will be sent to Poland. From there, they will be distributed to those impacted by the war in Ukraine.
The meal-packing last Saturday is not a standalone event, but rather a regular occurrence for the Lutheran congregation, Gudlin said.
“Each year, the churches campaign for donations which are used to purchase the raw food ingredients. These ingredients are purchased in bulk by our nonprofit partner, Food For Kidz,” he said.
“The meals are then packaged by volunteers in a space donated by Bethel Lutheran Church. These efforts allow 100% of the donations to go towards food with an end result of a highly nutritious meal for just 17 cents.”
The church is already “fundraising for our next meal pack,” Gudlin said. People can donate by going to this website and selecting “Food for Kidz.”
Since Russian forces invaded the eastern part of Ukraine, many churches and other charities have been sending aid to those adversely affected by the Eastern European conflict.
In an earlier interview with CP, the Rev. Franklin Graham, president of the North Carolina-based Evangelical humanitarian organization Samaritans’ Purse, spoke of how the charity had set up a field hospital in the western Ukraine city of Lviv.
He said people fleeing the fighting in Ukraine have general “health needs” to be addressed as well as injuries sustained due to the conflict.
“You’ve got people that are diabetic, you’ve got people with heart conditions, high blood pressure, all of these kinds of things are just normal everyday problems of life,” said Graham.
“On top of that, you have a lot of people that … have been wounded … due to the shelling. And so, you have to throw that into the mix.”
“We will be doing a lot of treating trauma,” he added.
As many Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries, Poland has taken in about 1.8 million Ukrainian refugees since the invasion began. According to the United Nations, Poland has taken in about 60% of the 3 million people who’ve fled Ukraine in the last month.
Many churches in neighboring countries like Poland have opened their doors to shelter and aid refugees.
In the U.S., many churches have stepped up their efforts to aid Ukrainian refugees by either holding supply drives or fundraisers.
In Ludlow, Massachusetts, Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church is hosting a supply drive to benefit those impacted by the invasion in Ukraine. Supplies donated to the drive are shipped out to a handful of locations in western Ukraine to aid orphanages, wounded military and civilians, according to WWLP.
The Bethany Slavic Church in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, started a Ukraine War Refugee Aid Fund that has raised over $200,000.
Meanwhile, the Nativity of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church in Springfield, Oregon, has raised over $40,000 to help those impacted by the invasion.
Other churches in the U.S. have sent members to aid the relief efforts on the ground in Ukraine’s neighboring countries.