The event lived up to its name.
Nearly 120 volunteers participated Thursday in the “Hands of Hope Pack-A-Thon,” hosted by America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia in the student activity center at College of Coastal Georgia.
The volunteers lined up along tables packing food kits, quickly filling black plastic bags with nonperishable food items like protein bars, food cups, crackers and juice. People bustled around the hectic student activity center, restocking supplies and carrying bags outside to be piled up and sent back to a warehouse.
The food will be given to students in schools in Glynn and McIntosh counties.
The event was part of the nationally-recognized Hunger Action Month, a campaign to bring attention to the reality of food insecurity in the United States and to promote ways for individuals to fight hunger in their communities.
“This is the first year we’ve ever done the Hunger Action Day,” said Kalista Morton, community relations manager for America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, a nonprofit food bank that works to address food insecurity locally.
Many students in this area rely on the breakfast and lunch meals sold at schools daily for the food they’ll eat on weekdays. Then on weekends, many students go without food.
“Some kids wonder if they’re going to like their lunch or not. These kids wonder if they’re going to have lunch,” said Mark Kok, headmaster at Saint Simons Christian School, which brought a group of nearly 30 middle school students to the pack-a-thon.
The school works year-round to involve its student in community projects like this, Kok said, through its St. Simons Serves program.
“The mission there is simply to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” he said.
Volunteers arrived at the pack-a-thon at 9 a.m. Thursday ready to work. They represented several groups from around the community, including Gateway Behavioral Health Services and Christ Church. Other individuals came alone, Morton said, having heard about the event through social media or the newspaper.
Polly Andrews-Bean, an employee of McGinty-Gordon & Associates insurance company, packed bags alongside retired community members and a police officer from the Brunswick Police Department.
“A lot of these children don’t get any food, except for in schools,” said Andrews-Bean, as she packed containers of fruit into the food kits. “The need is very big in our community.”
College of Coastal Georgia partnered with America’s Second Harvest to host the event, and college students came out to help with the packing.
“It’s great for the college to host this for us, because we don’t have room in our warehouse to do anything like this,” Morton said. “So without the college partnership, we couldn’t have done it.”
The event’s organizers aimed to pack 2,500 food bags on Thursday. By 11 a.m., though, they’d run out of bags. In the frenzy of work, volunteers had packed more than 3,000 food kits.
“We couldn’t do this without volunteers, because there’s only three of us on staff,” Morton said. “So we have to depend on our volunteers to make all this happen, and I’m just very thankful.”
Anyone who wishes to support America’s Second Harvest can call Morton at 912-261-7979.