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Local teens giving up food to fight famine

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MASSENA - A local youth group has pledged to give up food for 30 hours to help fight hunger world-wide.

They’re participating in the World Vision “2013 30 Hour Famine” campaign, which runs Feb. 22-23.

Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ Pastor Judith A. Van Kennen, who will also be participating in the effort, pointed out why it is important.

She said, according to World Vision, more than 20,000 children younger than age 5 died every day in 2011, most from preventable causes like hunger, poverty and disease.

She also noted that there are 925 million hungry people in the world, which equates to one in seven of all living people, and that one in three people lives on less than $2 a day.

“A lot of what World Vision does is offer digestible information for youth to understand,” according to the Rev. Van Kennen, who said she and another adult advisor for the group get together with the group, who number about a half dozen and range from ages 16 to 21, and plan the effort. Friends also accompany the participants during the event.

She said they found out about the campaign through information that was sent to the church. This will be the second year the young adults have taken part in the campaign.

“They really wanted to do it again,” she said. “The kids per se aren’t a youth group. We provide the space and the church provides funds if they’re needed.”

They’ll begin their fast at 12 p.m. Feb. 22 and not eat for 30 hours. But, Rev. Van Kennen said, they will have some items such as juice “so their blood sugar doesn’t drop” and bottled water to help them through that period.

Last year they also made something described as what starving children might eat - a combination of ingredients that included peanut butter, powdered milk, oil and sugar.

“If they get really hungry, they can eat it,” she said.

But they’ll be doing more than just putting food off to the side for 30 hours. Rev. Van Kennen said they’ll also have some interactive team-building games and activities that will bring home the point about why they’re raising money.

Last year, she said, the participants took on the role of refugee and carried their personal items on their back as a starving refugee would do.

“The premise is you can’t do it alone,” she said.

The participants get an identification and become one of the youths who need food. The participant learns about the child and takes on that persona. For instance, if the child has a hearing problem, the participant will wear ear plugs or have cotton balls in his or her ears to muffle the sound.

“In the time leading up to our 30 hours of fasting, we’ll get a crash course in global hunger and come face to face with the realities of poverty and injustice. We will make a global impact by learning about the hunger crisis, and raising money to do something about it! During Famine weekend (on empty stomachs mind you), we’ll be working in our community, doing service projects to make a local impact, too,” they note on their fundraising web page.

They’ve raised $300 so far, with every $30 raised helping feed and care for a child for a month.

The money raised will be used by World Vision, a leading Christian ministry serving people in nearly 100 countries, to fight hunger and poverty around the world. They bring food aid to disaster zones and equip families with the tools they need to overcome hunger in their communities.

The group’s donation page is located at http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR/30HourFamine/30HourFamine?team_id=45594&pg=team&fr_id=2020. Anyone who wants to contribute can also call the church at 769-8523 or mail their donation, made out to Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ and marked for “Famine Relief” to 39 W. Orvis St., Massena, NY 13662.

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