Students and Durham volunteers gathered in an effort to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream resonate abroad Wednesday night.
The hunger relief organization Stop Hunger Now, along with the Durham Rotary Club, Duke University, North Carolina Central University and Southern High School, sponsored its fifth annual MLK Million Meals Service Event, in which volunteers worked together to package 50,000 meals for the victims of this month’s earthquake in Haiti. Packaging took place at Southern High School from 5 to 9 p.m., with meals consisting of rice, dried vegetables and soy. The event—which is traditionally geared toward preparing packages for disadvantaged individuals and victims of crisis situations—was modified to specifically target those affected by the recent tragedy in Haiti.
At the event, there were different stations for filling, weighing, sealing and ultimately boxing the dry meal packages. A volunteer rang a gong to signal the group’s progress after the completion of every 1,000 packages.
Terry Brown, Stop Hunger Now program coordinator for Raleigh, said he has never had a problem in recruiting volunteers for the event, and he estimated that 160 volunteers participated this year.
“MLK Day is a day of service and getting people involved at a young age is important,” Brown added.
Amber Whitley, student outreach coordinator for the Duke Center for Civic Engagement-Durham Programs said she was satisfied with the turnout as well. Because of funding constraints and the limited amount of food that could be purchased and packaged, volunteers even had to be turned away, she said.
“Next year, we hope to have more money to feed even more,” she added.
Whitley also noted that the diverse groups mixed and socialized together.
“You’re not seeing a table of just Duke or NCCU or Southern [High School] students... you see [them] all working together,” she said.
The scene of the meal packaging was “fun and [had] good energy,” said sophomore Allie Yee, a member of the Duke Hunger Alliance.
“It’s just a one-time exciting event thing, so I think that’s the draw,” Yee said.
NCCU freshman, Ashley Rugley, said she was uncertain about volunteering at first, but changed her mind upon arrival.
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“It turned out to be really good, really interesting, and it’s so good to help the less fortunate,” she said. “We plan to come every year... before I graduate––and then I’ll have to start my own organization.”