The Little Lake County Gives Back program is a community outreach effort to connect not-for-profit organizations with our readers. Today’s focus is on the experience of volunteering with your children. Note your experience and current guidelines may differ. Always check the website before heading out.
We can talk to our kids until we are blue in the face about the importance of helping others; but, these lessons never really sink in unless we find ways to put our values into practice. There are many worthy service opportunities available throughout Lake County, but few that allow you to bring along young children. That’s why I was so grateful to learn about Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville.
Volunteering with Kids: Feed My Starving Children, Libertyville
Feed My Starving Children allows kids as young as 5-years old to volunteer. In fact, according to Mark Crea, the organization’s CEO, about half of their volunteers are kids, “So it’s literally kids feeding kids.”
Feed My Starving Children is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that ships nourishing, specially-formulated meals to starving children in nearly 70 countries around the world. A permanent packing site is located at 742 East Park Avenue in Libertyville. Feed My Starving Children is a Christian organization; however, families who follow different religious traditions (or none at all) should in no way feel alienated.
Volunteers are needed to hand-pack the meals which are shipped worldwide. Signing up is easy! It’s a perfect family or group project.
How to volunteer at Feed My Starving Children
Volunteering at Feed My Starving Children easy! Just complete the steps below to register:
- Go to FSMC.org and click “Volunteer Registration” in the upper right hand corner
- Select “Permanent Site” to be taken to the Volunteer Registrations page
- From here select an option from the “Illinois Locations” drop-down menu to access available shifts at the Libertyville location
Each volunteer shift is only 2-hours long, and shifts in Libertyville are available throughout the day on Wednesday-Saturdays.
Please adhere to the age requirements when registering. While children as young as 5 may participate, all children in 2nd Grade and younger must have an adult counterpart (1:1 ratio), and an adult must accompany everyone under 18.
What to Expect when you Volunteer
Each shift begins with an orientation that will instruct you in the packing process. The only thing you need to know beforehand is to leave the jewelry at home and wear closed-toe shoes. The orientation also includes a film that will put you in touch with the organization’s mission. The film shares some scary statistics, but parents need not worry about disturbing images of dying children that will scare young kids. The film is uplifting and will galvanize your party for the work ahead. My 6-year old son was able to connect with the child featured in the film and feels pride in putting a name and a face to a child that he was able to help.
Several packing stations will form small assembly lines, typically consisting of 6 people at each station. You can come with a group, or come on your own. My son and I teamed up with other volunteers there to staff our station, “The Philippines.” All the stations are named for countries that Feed My Starving Children serves.
You will measure and scoop dry food such as rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and a vitamin powder mix into packages that will be sealed and packed in boxes for shipping. Please remember that little ones aren’t always so precise. While you are there to provide your child with a service opportunity, don’t forget the big picture. All food is paid for by donations. Food that becomes spilled or spoiled is food that doesn’t reach the hungry children for which it was intended. Make sure young children are supervised and help them. If your child’s motor skills aren’t up to the task of scooping, there are plenty of jobs available such as weighing, packing boxes, or labeling that won’t put them in contact with the food.
The atmosphere during a volunteer shift is lively and energetic! Pop music plays in the background, and stations compete with one another to pack the most boxes. Whenever you fill a whole box, your group yells a cheer! It makes the work fast-paced and fun, which is crucial when dealing with children. My guesstimate is that the actual packing time is just a little over one hour. After packing is complete, you are given instructions for clean-up, and then you are invited into the warehouse to bless the food with a group prayer. You are in no way required to participate in the prayer and may opt-out if you wish.
Following the prayer, volunteers are asked to regroup for a final wrap-up. This is a wonderful time as they calculate how much food has been packed for shipping and it’s a great way for children to understand the impact of their contribution. My son proudly tells people that he helped feed 100 children for a full year!
The cost of one box of food is about $50 and each box of food can feed a child for seven months. All food is paid for by donations, so you may wish to provide a monetary donation along with your contribution of time. If a monetary donation is not in your budget, you won’t feel coerced to donate. I do encourage you to give what you can, especially if you appreciate the opportunity it has given your family to do something meaningful with each other. A movie with your family costs about $10 per person, but won’t give you the same sort of quality time you will experience together at Feed My Starving Children.
If you have folks on your holiday gift list you still need gifts for, take some time to peruse their marketplace which has wonderful gift items at various price points. Many of these items are hand-crafted by artisans from the countries served by Feed My Starving Children. Each item tells you just how many meals its purchase can provide children in need.
The holidays are a time when people like to talk about the “spirit of giving” but need knows no season. Consider giving your time and resources to Feed My Starving Children with your family year-round.
When Loralie isn’t out exploring with her two pint-sized adventurers you’ll often find her in front of her computer plotting to take over the world (or at least Lake County.) She appreciates good friends, good food, expensive shoes and parents who make two lanes in the drop-off/pick-up line at school. Her spirit animal is The Hobbit. She invites you to join her on her quest for unique distractions, diversions and deliciousness in this county we call home.