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Springville teens work to end hunger: the 30 Hour Famine

SPRINGVILLE — Teens will be going hungry in Springville, this weekend, as young people from First Presbyterian Church and First United Methodist Church undertake their second annual World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine on April 12 and 13.

Fundraising efforts, including the Flamingo Flu that has been descending on households, around the area, are wrapping up.

Arianne Johnson, a famine organizer from First Presbyterian, said that fundraising has gone well, garnering approximately $3,381, by press time. Monies have come from the Flamingo Flu, a Kiss the Cow contest and other donations.

“I’m so proud of the youth and of the community who have supported our efforts 180 percent,” she said. “Everybody has received it very well, and some are already getting the wheels turning, about who to flock, next year.”

In addition to planning the Flamingo Flu, Johnson said she is collecting juice, which participants are allowed to consume, during the famine, and donations from area businesses, to help make up the $1,600 the group still has left to raise, at press time.

“We’re so close, and it’s really eating me up, to see whether we’ll make it, or not,” Johnson said. “We’re really waiting for when the kids come in, to see if we’ll reach our goal.”

The 30 Hour Famine is sponsored by World Vision, an organization with a stated mission of working with children, families and their communities, worldwide, to reach their full potential, by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice, according to www.30hourfamine.org.

One child younger than the age of 5 dies from hunger-related causes, every 13 seconds, for a total of more than 20,000 children, each day.

Groups that participate in the 30 Hour Famine raise funds for 30 days, prior to the weekend event. During those 30 hours, teen participants sleep in cardboard boxes and undertake activities to learn more about world hunger and raise awareness about the issue.

Johnson said that she and Kate Werner, her organizational counterpart at the First United Methodist Church, have worked to make the fundraising a fun part of the 30 Hour Famine process, which culminates with the famine itself, taking place April 12 and 13.

“It’s like planning a surprise birthday party,” she said, of the preparation process. “There’s all this stuff to do; all the planning, but you know it’s going to be so much fun. You just can’t wait.”

At press time, Johnson said between 25 and 40 youths were expected to participate, although she was unable to say, exactly, until the teens show up. The theme for this year’s famine is “Refuge,” which Johnson said is intended to help the participants focus on the lives of the people World Vision supports.

“On Friday, the students arrive at what we call customs, where they forfeit their technology and get an ID card, that tells them the name of their country and a handicap,” she explained, adding that the handicaps could include the inability to speak, hear or use a limb. “On top of being really, really hungry, these let the teens see the challenges these children, in these places, go through, on a daily basis,” she said.

The famine includes time for worship, as well as tribal games that let the participants have fun, while focusing on the struggles of what refugees go through. On Saturday, teams of famine participants are dispatched to the homes of several elderly residents, to help out with yard work or general spring preparations, weather permitting. The famine ends with a worship service and a “break fast” meal, prepared by church members.

“We keep them so busy, they hardly have time to think about being really, really hungry,” she said. “I really love this age group. I want these teens to know that they are loved so much and so valued for who they are and what their unique, God-given gifts are. We want them to be free to be those people, as opposed to your stereotypical teenagers.”

Johnson reinstituted the famine last year, after participating herself, when she was a teen.

“I participated in the 90s and I remember the experience of coming to an awareness of what it feels like to be starving,” Johnson said, of her reason for starting up the fundraiser again, last year. “For the first 10 hours, I was fine. After 15 or 20 hours, I would have eaten the rug, if it wasn’t nailed down. It struck me that there are kids, toddlers and babies who are starving all the time; there’s no end for it. I thought, the chance to save one child is so rewarding. But it’s not just feeding them for a moment. With World Vision, they teach the people the skills to continue to feed themselves, as well.”

In addition to Johnson and Werner, parent volunteers are on hand, to make sure the participants are having fun and staying safe.

“It is hard. At the 20th hour without food, all of us get emotional. Some might get silly, some get a little cranky, some get weepy. To mediate emotions is really important,” Johnson said. “If someone needs that support, we don’t want someone to feel that they can’t tell someone, if they’re not feeling well or don’t think they can do it.

“At the heart of it, our goal is to empower youth to make a difference, like Christ did, by feeding those in need,” Johnson continued. “We try to really get on their level and help youth show their friends what we’re about. As Christians, we love everybody. Our focus is on the kingdom, not just ourselves. We want to show them who we are.

“And we want it to grow. We want to be bigger and get other churches involved,” she said. “By the time my daughters are old enough to join, I want it to be a real force.”

More information about the 30 Hour Famine, its fundraising efforts in the area or joining the team are available, by calling the First Presbyterian Church at 592-7962.

Further details about World Vision and the 30 Hour Famine can be found at www.30hourfamine.org.

Donations can still be made to an individual teen or the church’s page at www.30hourfamine.org. The team name is “First Presbyterian Church.”

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