ORAU, Rotary Club of Oak Ridge and Emory Valley Center join forces for Rise Against Hunger event
During a week that needed a spark of hope, the Oak Ridge community came together to help vulnerable children around the world.
More than 150 volunteers from ORAU, the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge and Emory Valley Center gathered in the center’s gymnasium to package nearly 22,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger relief organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable. The organization has a goal of mobilizing the resources to end hunger by 2030.
“This is the second time in two years we’ve partnered with Rotary Club of Oak Ridge to help Rise Against Hunger,” said Michael Holtz, ORAU senior communications and marketing specialist. “This is a great opportunity to give back to the community and to really do something good.”
After some quick words of thanks and instruction from Simon Martinengo, community engagement manager for Rise Against Hunger, volunteers got to work.
They created an assembly line to package highly nutritious dehydrated meals comprised of rice, soy, vegetables and 23 essential vitamins and minerals. Rise Against Hunger will distribute the meals primarily to school feeding programs in developing countries around the world.
The Emory Valley Center gymnasium was definitely full of energy as volunteers packaged meals. Upbeat music played in the background, and many sang the chorus to James Taylor’s “Sweet Caroline” when it played.
Heidi O’Donnell, workforce development project manager for ORAU, counted full cartons of meals as they were loaded on a cart before being rolled out to a waiting truck. Every time she counted 20 cartons, a gong was struck to mark the group’s progress, and volunteers applauded.
“This is so much fun,” she said. “It’s great to give back to the community in this way.
Serving the community was the reason members of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge got involved too.
“We partnered with ORAU to do Rise Against Hunger two years ago and we had such a good time we decided to do it again,” said Jennifer Enderson, president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge and of Emory Valley Center.
As Desmond Tutu said: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”