CRS Helping Hands project turns out 10,000 meals

A highly organized assembly line of parishioners from across the Diocese of Knoxville gathered at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Lenoir City recently as part of an effort to help end hunger in Africa.

Those who took part in the Helping Hands project, sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, helped churn out 10,000 meal packages that will be shipped to people in Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation once known as Upper Volta, located in West Africa.

An estimated 50 volunteers, including members of the Knoxville Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and the St. Thomas Youth Group, wore hair nets and plastic gloves and used plastic spoons, cups, and funnels to pour fortified rice and soy into small plastic pouches.

The pouches were sealed and then placed in cardboard boxes for shipment.

Sally Jackson, a KDCCW coordinator, said it’s believed this was the first Helping Hands event held in the Diocese of Knoxville. It was also the last service project for the KDCCW 2015 Convention, which started in April.

Helping Hands, a program developed by Catholic Relief Services and Stop Hunger Now, is a high-energy, hands-on way for Catholics in the United States to tackle hunger around the world. Michael Trujillo, a relationship manager for CRS, said the organization educates volunteers about the people and country they are helping, ships the meals, and provides skills training and other long-term programs that help break the cycle of hunger.

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