From Crazy Hats to Ping Pong - Who Says Mission Work Can't be Fun?

Date Posted: 12/13/2011

Almost 300 volunteers from St. Paul’s UMC and a variety of school groups packaged 74,406 meals for Stop Hunger Now on St. Paul’s Mitzvah Day 2011.


That far surpassed the original 50,000-meal goal, and it could have been more if the truck taking them to the warehouse could have held more. The church’s Fondren Hall was packed with people of all ages — from toddlers in arms to 80-year-olds — working side by side toward a common goal.


These Stop Hunger Now (SHN) meals comprised of vitamins, dehydrated vegetables, soy product, and rice are shipped to the most destitute places in the world. Matt Casteel, the area SHN coordinator, explained that the organization is closely tied with education, shipping direct to schools and orphanages. When this food is provided at a school, he said, families do not to have to decide between education and hunger. Often these are the only meals a child will have during the day — or



“We have found that the education retention rate increases where these meals are provided,” he said. “An educated community enlivens a community; the educated can — and do — ‘pay back.’”


Community Connections

Thanks to these groups beyond St. Paul’s and their St. Paul’s connection for inviting them to help pack Stop Hunger Meals for Mitzvah Day 2011:


• The Red Cross Club at Carnegie Vanguard High School and St. Paul’s member Andy Leeds, who is a Carnegie student.


• H3 — Helping Houston’s Homeless at The Village School and St. Paul’s member Tina Schwettmann, who teaches there.


• Metropolitan Volunteer Program at the University of Houston, which found this service opportunity online.


• Sigma Nu Fraternity at the University of Houston and St. Paul’s member Mike Baker, who is an alumnus of the chapter.


• A St. John’s Middle School advisory and St. Paul’s member Jessica McKelvey, whose daughter is in that advisory.


• Texas Southern University’s Wesley Foundation members through the United Methodist Church connection. Thanks also to the St. Paul’s youth and the following ministries who supported their efforts, including a car wash that netted approximately $700 and ping pong competitions that raised another $120 — all matched by an anonymous donor:


• the Fidelis Sunday School class and an anonymous donor who matched the class’s $400.


• the Young Adult classes and an anonymous donor who matched their $1,250. 


• all other classes and other groups that donated time and/or money toward this project, including the Candlelighters, Change Bell Ringers, and Hispanic Ministries members.  “The generosity of both

time and money was amazing,” said Lori Chidgey, St. Paul’s Missions and Outreach Coordinator.


Mitzvah Day returned to St. Paul's in 2009 by popular demand after a similar day of projects during the build-up to St. Paul's 2006 Centennial Celebration. It was named in honor of their neighbor, Congregation Emanu El, which conducts similar days of multiple "good deed" projects. In the Jewish tradition, carrying out a Mitzvah, or a good deed, is a Torah commandment. For more pictures, see the ‘Newspaper’ section of Thanks to David Garcia of the University of Houston for many of the pictures.