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Food Pack at Bob Jones assembles, distributes 55,000-plus meals

MADISON – Drew Crocker and Neha Sharma, juniors at Bob Jones High School, recruited hundreds of volunteers to assemble meals to feed local, hungry people.

“Because of the generous contributions from local individuals and businesses and the incredible community response to our call for volunteers, we were able to surpass our goal and pack over 55,000 meals,” Crocker said.

During two shifts of 1.5 hours, about 200 people helped extend the original goal. Students from 10 different organizations at Bob Jones participated, along with numerous residents.

With headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., Operation Inasmuch is a worldwide ministry that assists churches in equipping and motivating congregations to obey the Biblical mandate to minister to the “least of these.” Operation Inasmuch encourages believers to serve others and experience the joy that comes from serving. (operationinasmuch.org)

“The student planning on this project was an incredible feat,” Bob Jones Principal Sylvia Lambert said. “Drew had asked his grandfather (who founded Operation Inasmuch) to come to Bob Jones to meet with me and to explain how this Food Pack project works from start to finish.”

“Drew and Neha, on behalf of the Junior Class Student Government Association, saw this as a way for our students to serve the community. Drew and Neha worked tirelessly and with much excitement as they planned each step. They wanted to do something larger than themselves and make a difference in the community,” Lambert said.

To prepare the food packs, volunteers packed two separate meals. The first meal was an oatmeal blend, consisting of oats, dehydrated apples, cinnamon and sugar. The second was macaroni and cheese, which consisted of pasta and a cheese packet. “Although our goal was to pack 25,000 of each meal, we were actually able to pack 26,000-plus meals of both oatmeal and mac and cheese,” Crocker said.

Most of the volunteers were Bob Jones students but Madison residents also helped. In addition, students from Discovery Middle School and James Clemens High School assisted with packing.

Volunteers worked in 10 packing lines — five lines packing oatmeal and five packing mac and cheese. “A ‘line’ consisted of 10 volunteers running through an assembly line. First, volunteers would pour the ingredients into a funnel which would fall into the plastic bag. After this, the bag was weighed to make sure it met its weight requirement,” Crocker said.

“Next, the bag was sealed and placed into its respective box. In total, we packed more than 220 boxes, totaling over 55,000 meals,” Crocker said.

Set up in Bob Jones competition gym, “students, adults and families were excited to be there and to be a part of this special day knowing that this would impact others in our community,” Lambert said. “Everyone was helpful toward others and jumped right in to assist, whether at packing tables, refilling of food items, making boxes or transporting the boxes.”

“Everyone that attended (a few hundred) enjoyed working together for the greater good. The planning and organization were impressive,” Lambert said.

“After packing was finished, representatives from our different food pantries came to take food they had previously reserved. Four different pantries — Asbury United Methodist, Harvest House, St. Paul United Methodist and Good Shepherd United Methodist — received the meals. We’re incredibly excited about how this will positively affect the community, especially those who are food-insecure,” Crocker said.

“I’d also like to give an additional shout-out to the donors who helped us reach our goal. Without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to make the impact we did,” Crocker said. “A big thank-you to Integrated Behavioral Health, Insurrection Industries and Batten Communications for their generous contributions. Additionally, I’d like to thank the Indian community for their incredible support.”

“This food pack was an incredible success. In addition to surpassing our goal, it was amazing to see our community come together and joyfully support our neighbors. I’m so grateful for how receptive the community was to this project,” Crocker said.

“It’s so important that everyone in the community feels that they are loved by their neighbors, and I hope that this food packing helped show that in a big way,” Crocker said. “I love our Madison community, and I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to come together and show that we care.”

Donors can mail monetary gifts to Operation Inasmuch Inc., P.O. Box 2523, Knoxville, TN 37901, or donate online at operationinasmuch.org/events.

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