1,600 join to package food for Syrian refugees

1,600 join to package food for Syrian refugeesimage

07 Dec 2015

BETTENDORF — More than 1,600 volunteers made an overwhelming statement of support and compassion for Syrian refugees Saturday when they packed 256,608 meals for hungry children and families in Jordan and Greece.

The volunteers participated in Q-C for Syria, an interfaith effort to aid the refugees in crisis. People of all faiths — Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish — packaged the meals at the Waterfront Convention Center, Bettendorf.

The food and all supplies were provided by Kids Against Hunger – Your Quad Cities, which set up 16 assembly lines that were manned by 10 volunteers who worked one hour to pack 1,600 meals. After an hour, new volunteers took over, a process that repeated itself from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The event was coordinated by Quad-Cities Muslim and Jewish leaders.

“Our goal was to get as many Quad-Citians as we could to participate in a hands-on fashion in helping the Syrian refugees,” said Temple Emanuel Rabbi Henry Karp. “The people of the Quad-Cities really stepped up.”

There were 1,550 volunteers who registered prior to the event, and many, many more people who simply walked in and asked to help.

“They showed up in droves,” said Lisa Killinger,president of the Muslim Community of the Quad-Cities. “I think the fact so many showed up shows that feeding the hungry is a value common to people of all faiths,” she said.

Shannon and Rob Leveridge, and their four children ages 12 – 3, volunteered to package meals Saturday. The Davenport family donned plastic hair nets and gloves and dove in to do what they could to assist the refugees.

Mrs. Leveridge said they are a family who has more than enough, so it really bothers them to know the Syrian refugees are in need. They would gladly house a refugee, but that opportunity isn’t available right now, she said.

When their church, Edwards Congregational, asked for volunteers, they saw it as a way they could help now. “Our kids are really motivated, but this is a distant reality for them,” she said. “This is a way to make it real.”

The meal that was sealed in a plastic bag included rice, fortified soy, dehydrated vegetables, a dried vegetarian broth and 21 vitamins and minerals. Pam Gettert, with Kids Against Hunger Quad-Cities, said food scientists developed the formula, which is one that can be tolerated by people who are starving and malnourished, and provides the nutrition they need to grow stronger.

One packet will serve six, and the family receiving it only has to add water and boil.

The total cost for the meals packaged Saturday and shipping is $64,152 and all of the money must be raised before it is sent.

Ms. Gettert said donations are still needed and can be made by check to Kids Against Hunger QC, c/o Pam, 4366 Augusta Court, Bettendorf, Iowa, 52722.

Ms. Gettert said one packaged meal costs 25 cents. A donation of $375 covers the cost of 1,500 meals. All donations are tax deductible.

Rabbi Karp said they welcome donations, “and while we need the money, we wanted people to experience what it is like to help others,” he said. “All day today, this room will be filled with caring people.”

Ms. Killinger said the outpouring of support shows the Quad Cities is an extraordinary place. “Whenever there is a need, people show up. This is nothing short of amazing,” she said.