By Kristin Fox
This weekend, look for yellow signs marking the way of this year’s World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine, an annual event sponsored by the First United Methodist Church. Students from several Franklin area churches will be joining the FUMC youth to do their part to help fight hunger locally as well as globally.
For the last 27 years, the local Methodist church has held the 30-Hour Famine, a 30-hour event to raise money and collect food for CareNet in Macon County and World Vision, a global nonprofit that serves people around the world affected by hunger.
Area youth will be stationed from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 11 outside of Food Lion, the empty corner lot on the other side of the road from the back of the brewery (where the old hotel used to be), directly across the brewery at FUMC’s Outreach Center, and the pavilion right on Main Street to collect food and monetary donations.
This year’s event is led by the youth of the church under the direction of FUMC Assistant Pastor Vicki Lawrence with help from parents Stephanie Laseter, Ginger Stork, Dawn Hope and Barb Putman who helped with the planning and execution of the famine.
While all aged students participate in the event, youth from sixth grade through 12th grade commit to fasting for 30 hours beginning today while collecting cans or doing mission work around the community.
To help keep the youth engaged during the 30-hour event, the youth switch out activities throughout Saturday. Community service activities the youth will engage in include trash pickups at various locations around town, cleaning and prepping the church garden, where the church grows vegetables to donate to CareNet, and random acts of kindness to first responders and other special people in the community.
“The fasting allows them to understand true hunger in a tangible way,” said parent Molly Phillips. “They spend the night at the church and participate in a poverty simulation, where they are assigned a real-world situation of someone in poverty and have to navigate a day in their shoes. This is a really cool exercise – volunteers set up tables of situations – daycare pickup, transportation, work, medical, DSS – and students can learn how difficult it can be to not just be hungry, but also make choices based on the constraints of that situation.”
“Many of our adult members also choose to fast, but even if they don’t, they help box and count cans that are donated, go with the youth out to mission projects/can collecting sites, or – what the kids love most – make outstanding food to eat when the 30-hour fast is over and they can chow down,” she added.
“If people see signs and kids, we’d love to have them give a few bucks – 100% of the money raised goes directly to CareNet and World Vision,” said Phillips. “Anyone in the community is welcome to help and participate – sadly, food insecurity affects more than what our church alone can do. For more information, those interested can call the church at (828) 524-3010.”
Rotary partners with the church to hold the famine. In addition to Rotary, the Franklin Press puts bags in one of their papers that subscribers can fill and return.
Several local businesses have been collecting food items for the event including Tektone, Radio Shack, Outdoor 76, Fox Mercantile, Franklin Café, Macon County News, Jones, Key Melvin & Patton PA, Franklin Press, Nantahala Physical Therapy, My Favorite Things, Ace Hardware, Nantahala Learning Center, Kavod Fitness, Motor Company Grill, Franklin Health & Fitness Center, Toccoa Gas Company, H & R Block, Food Lion, Rotary Club of Franklin Daybreak and Franklin Office Supply.
“The 30-Hour Famine is meant to be fun for the youth, and there is definitely a lot of games and laughter, but it’s also a wake-up call,” said Phillips. “Most all of the participants haven’t experienced true hunger before. If we can help them understand the effects hunger and poverty have on others, we hope they will gain an understanding and compassion that will inspire them to making a difference in our community and our world.”
Learn more about World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine at https://30hourfamine.worldvision.org.
Look for students holding up yellow signs around Franklin this Saturday and do your part to fight world hunger.