This Saturday, St. Mary’s Outpatient Surgery Center was transformed for a philanthropic event. St. Mary’s partnered with Pack-Away Hunger to package and provide food for local families in need. Assembly-line style tables filled the outpatient surgery center space and volunteers hurriedly filled pouches of food. St. Mary’s employees, family, and friends volunteered their time to put together meals for local families.
Event organizer Dr. Gus Galante, was inspired by his son’s fraternity during a parent’s weekend at IU where a similar event took place. “ I just thought it was a great idea to give back to the community,” says Galante. “It’s a good way to get people involved in something fun and it’s setting an example of philanthropy for children.”
Volunteers as young as 5 years old and as old as 70 participated in packaging meals for the Food Pantry of Hobart and Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. Overall, about 100 volunteers helped pack 30,000 meals for Northwest Indiana residents in just a few hours.
Identical tables were set up in the out-patient center with a volunteer in charge of each of the main meal ingredients. Every packet contains enough food for six meals and includes essential vitamins and minerals, soy protein, rice, and savory vegetable spices. Once the packets were filled, sealed, and boxed, they were placed on pallets to be delivered to the Food Pantry of Hobart and Food Bank of Northwest Indiana
This event was made possible by donations from the community, individual and corporate. 100% of the proceeds from the donations went towards purchasing the food for the event. One in six Hoosiers turn to food pantries for assistance and Pack-Away-Hunger is looking to change this statistic. Pack-Away Hunger is based out of Indianapolis but has done several events in the region including collaboration with Lake Area United Way. Ron Pierce, Events Manager, has even delivered Pack-Away Hunger meals to Guatemala and Haiti. Pierce explains that the meal is “geared towards what is already available at food pantries.” It is easily flavored with a can of soup, a can of tomatoes paste, more spices, etc. As music played, volunteers shouted and whooped at the completion of another box of meals.
“I would just like to announce that we have 21,000 meals packaged!” said a thrilled Dr. Galante over the intercom. The bustle of the morning continued with volunteers rushing from table to table, refilling containers of rice and soy.
Volunteer Rebekah Cowan says the event was “wonderful.” She invited several friends, co-workers, and family to participate and hopes that they do it again. Providing 30,000 meals to the local community is no small feat and it seems that the positive impact and partnership St. Mary’s and Pack Away Hunger is likely to continue in the future.