This group from Whitewater, front row from the left: Abby Coon, Monica Juette, Emma Weigel, Emily Radaj; and back row: Sheila Juette, Morgan Radaj, Madi Canipe, Aspen Cook, Alisha Parboteeah and Maggie Radaj, shown at a food-packing event in Delavan, are planning a similar event in Whitewater, Do Something MobilePack 2016, with a goal of helping hungry children around the world, bringing an event to Whitewater that will involve the entire community, and supporting the local food pantry in the process. (Submitted Photo)

This group from Whitewater, front row from the left: Abby Coon, Monica Juette, Emma Weigel, Emily Radaj; and back row: Sheila Juette, Morgan Radaj, Madi Canipe, Aspen Cook, Alisha Parboteeah and Maggie Radaj, shown at a food-packing event in Delavan, are planning a similar event in Whitewater, Do Something MobilePack 2016, with a goal of helping hungry children around the world, bringing an event to Whitewater that will involve the entire community, and supporting the local food pantry in the process. (Submitted Photo)

Group aims to help curb hunger, around the world and locally

By Heather Ruenz

Editor

In October, a group of Whitewater residents traveled to Delavan to volunteer for something that they had never done before – MobilePack, an international dry food-packaging event and service project.

The group of 10 from Whitewater included members of Girl Scout Troop 2332, the United Church of Christ Congregational youth group, and the M.A.D. (Making A Difference) Monday Mission group.

After the event in Delavan and a day at a similar event in December, the group has decided to host an event in Whitewater.

Maggie Radaj, one of the people spearheading the local event, said the Delavan event “made a big impression.”

“Mobile means that it travels around from community to community, bringing children and adults together to hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, which are then shipped to nearly 70 countries around the world,” she said.

MobilePack in Delavan, Radaj said was part of The 19 Days – an effort by AVERYday Ministries to conduct 19 acts of kindness in the 19 days between the day Avery McCarthy turned 11 years old and the day she died in 2012.

“A community came together to help make this happen – churches, scout groups, families and more, and it inspired us to do the same,” Radaj said.

The food and packing supplies for the MobilePack event in Delavan were delivered by the non-profit Christian group, Feed My Starving Children – the same group Whitewater event organizers plan to team up with.

In December, Radaj said, another opportunity to volunteer at a food-packing event in Lake Geneva, organized by Children’s World Impact, arose.

“Helping at that event sealed the deal, and a number of Whitewater residents are now determined to bring this opportunity to Whitewater, too,” Radaj said. “In addition, we’d also like to focus on the needs of our own local food pantry at the same time.”

Since December, Radaj and her daughter, Morgan, along with the Rev. Phil Milam, pastor of the Congregational UCC, and local Girl Scout leaders Shelia Juette and Kellie Danielski have been spreading the word by talking to the Whitewater Kiwanis and other local churches.

 Advanced planning

Now, the focus is on adding to the list of growing sponsors and planning fundraisers for the coming months to support the event.

Major sponsors who have committed to fundraising or donating a minimum of $1,000 to the event include Congregational UCC Church; First Citizens State Bank; Girl Scout Troop 2332; Girl Scout Troop 2240; Whitewater Kiwanis; Living Word Fellowship Church; and M.A.D. Monday Mission.

“It’s going to take a community to bring an event like this to Whitewater, and it’s time for us to do something. Together we can make a bigger impact,” Radaj said.

April 2016 is the goal date for the Whitewater event, Do Something MobilePack 2016. An exact date cannot be set with the school district until the event is within a year of the request, but Radaj said they hope to hold the event at Whitewater High School.

The group, Radaj said, was inspired by the song “Do Something” by contemporary Christian artist Matthew West and decided to incorporate the slogan into the name of the event.

Some of the lyrics in West’s song are:

“If not us, then who?

“If not now, then when?

“It’s not enough to do nothing.

“It’s time for us to do something.”

Bringing MobilePack to Whitewater is a big commitment, Radaj said, but one she believes the community will embrace.

“You commit to fundraising and packing a minimum of 100,000 meals. Each individual meal cost 22 cents and we are not limited to only 100,000 meals as each additional 22 cents raised means another meal we can pack and more volunteers we can give an opportunity to experience this,” Radaj said.

The meals include rice – the most widely accepted grain around the world; extruded soy nuggets – to provide maximum protein at a low cost; vitamins, minerals and a vegetarian flavoring – to give growing children critical and nutritional elements; and dehydrated vegetables – for flavor and nutrition. The dry ingredients are sealed in a bag, and only need to be cooked in water.

 Working together

“One of the most inspiring parts of attending the events in Delavan and Lake Geneva was that so many different groups came together to work together. It didn’t matter which church you attended, or which civic or service group you belonged to, everyone worked together. Even kids as young as 5 years old were allowed to help with their parents. How often do kids get an opportunity to volunteer?” Radaj said.

She said the event – and the work that has and will continue to take place in the months leading up to it – are prime opportunities for people to get to know more about groups in Whitewater.

“Like the Kiwanis – their mission is to serve the children of this community and the world. They are celebrating 100 years of service and we are proud to say that they are one of our major sponsors,” Radaj said. “They are committed to bringing this event to our community, and helping to feed the starving children of this world.”

But that is only the tip of the iceberg of the help – financially and through volunteers – that Do Something MobilePack 2016 will need.

“Even those who can’t donate a large amount of money or any money at all can help. Families, church youth groups, civic groups, Scouts, anyone can help with the service project part of this,” Radaj said.

 Fundraising frenzy

A few fundraisers have already been held, including a community rummage sale Feb. 21 that raised more than $700, or 3,181 meals. Members of Girl Scout Troop 2332 and Cub Scout Pack 173 along with the M.A.D. Monday Mission group, volunteered at the Whitewater Kiwanis 58th annual pancake breakfast and received a donation of $170.

While the food-packing event itself is to support hunger outside of Whitewater, Radaj said it’s important not to forget the needs locally.

“We plan to hold food drives at most of our fundraisers and at the packing event, too, to help support the local food pantry,” Radaj said.

A list of fundraising ideas are posted on the UCC church’s website at whitewaterucc.org/dosomethingmobilepack/fundraising for groups interested in helping raise money for the MobilePack event.

The UCC church will serve as the hub for all donations and payments toward major sponsorship. Checks can be mailed to Congregational UCC Church, 133 S. Franklin St., Whitewater, 53190. Include “Do Something MobilePack 2016” in the memo section and the name of the group making the donation, if applicable.

To get involved with Do Something MobilePack 2016, call (262) 473-4101 or email WhitewaterMobilePack@ gmail.com.

 

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