About 30 students who participate in O’Fallon Township High School Interact Club raised enough money to purchase over 11,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger, non-profit organization that responds to countries on a need basis.
Through fundraisers and a donation of $500 from the club’s sponsor, the Rotary Club of O’Fallon (noon group) — the students raised $3,164 to purchase the food in bulk and then held a packaging event with volunteers on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
“The last two shipments have gone to Madagascar, and it is likely this one will as well. (But), there is a chance that it may go to another place in Africa, or Malaysia,” said Jessica Day, OTHS staff sponsor of the Interact Club.
“Part of the goal is to end hunger by 2030, and we plan on adding to that campaign,” Rebekah Macdonald, Interact Club president said, as her hands stayed busy at one of the rice stations.
About 80 people — students and adults, alike — gathered in the OTHS cafeteria on Wednesday, Nov. 1 and donated a couple hours of their time to mix, seal and package 11,000 rice, soy and vegetable meals for distribution.
“We received bulk items and then will measure them out into individual meals that are more nutritionally balanced,” Day said.
“It’s pretty amazing how many meals you can package in a two-hour event time,” said Jennifer Anderson, community engagement manager of the Rise Against Hunger in Indianapolis, Ind.
Jay Taddei, an O’Fallon Rotarian and Interact liaison of 15 years in O’Fallon, said this is the first time the club has taken on a project of this magnitude.
“The OTHS Interact Club always does a lot of excellent community service, but this year’s group is taking it to another level,” Taddei said.
Taddei said Interact Club is “great,” because it is the first level introduction into “true community service at the high school level.”
Students can then graduate into the Rotaract Club at the college level to prepare them for entry into a Rotary Club by the age of 21, which is an organization with a mission of service to others above self.
“It’s a wonderful way the system just keeps growing and the number of things that are done, both locally and internationally on all three levels are literally staggering,” he said
“Volunteers from all different parts of the school and all different parts of the community have come together,” Macdonald said.
O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook, also an O’Fallon Rotary Club member, squeezed time in while on duty to join the effort, too.
“I think it’s a great cause, and I love being apart of young people doing great things. It’s very rewarding, and there are a lot of really great kids here,” Van Hook said.