A view from Glen Hill: Be a corporate sponsor!

The Wilton Interfaith Action Committee (Wi-ACT) seeks a few good corporate sponsors. That may seem like an odd request for a faith-based organization and especially so at this time of year with Hanukah just ended and Christmas right ahead, but the request is for a very good cause.

To give the full background: Wi-ACT is a consortium of 10 Wilton faith institutions — Christian, Jewish and Muslim — whose focus is on bringing their congregations together in work to serve those in need. To that end, over the past three years Wi-ACT has held an annual all-day meal-packaging event in which a total of almost 300,000 highly nutritious meals have been prepared. Wi-ACT’s faith-institution congregations really get into the work and enjoy working together as families and with congregants from their own and other faith communities, and Wi-ACT also invites the broader Wilton community to volunteer and others from other towns to come as observers with a view to possibly replicating the experience in their own towns.

Wi-ACT does its packaging work under the direction of the highly regarded 501(c)(3) nonprofit Stop Hunger Now Inc. (SHN). SHN has excellent on-site leaders for the event day and for meal distribution thereafter, and Wi-ACT itself is very well-organized for each phase of the operations leading up to and during the event day. In the three years to date that Wi-ACT has held these events, its meals have gone through SHN to sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, and Central America. The meals are served in educational settings in which children are nourished in mind as well as in body. The cost for the ingredients that go into these highly nutritious meal packages is paid by Wi-ACT through contributions to it by its faith-institution members supplemented by the generosity of individual donors. At 25 cents per meal, the cost of ingredients for the most recent event was almost $29,000.

Now, here comes the corporate sponsorship opportunity: Wi-ACT holds an annual benefit concert to help to fund its meal-packaging events. Its first concert was held last April with magnificent lyric soprano (and Wilton police officer) Anna Rita Tornello and highly accomplished orchestral piano soloist Erica vanderLinde Feidner joining forces to present a glorious and well-attended concert. They have agreed to perform again this spring (once again without charge), and Wi-ACT is seeking corporate sponsors for the concert to raise additional funds to enable it to package even more meals next October. Corporate sponsors may arrange to make their contributions either to a Wi-ACT member faith institution or to SHN; in either case, contributions will be earmarked for this event.

To explain how the event works: This past Oct. 26, 115,344 meals were packaged by 600 volunteers working in four two-hour shifts with kids from first grade on up to teenagers, their parents, and other adults right through to senior citizens all working side by side. Even the youngest volunteers helped significantly by carrying filled meal packages from the ingredient-mixing work stations to the weighing, sealing, and boxing lines. The meal-packaging work models for children what it means to be a person of faith who tries one’s best to live out that faith in action for the good of others.

This year, the weather on event day was mild, but two years ago — the first time Wi-ACT held the event — it fell on the day of that freak snow-and-ice storm. Yet even as heavy snows fell throughout the afternoon, volunteers kept streaming in so that Wi-ACT not only met its goal of packaging 73,000 meals but actually exceeded that goal with 76,500 meals packaged that day. Last year, 101,800 meals were packaged, and now the 115,344 meals at this year’s event. Also, each volunteer is asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the event for our local food pantries; this year that collection filled both a van and a sedan.

There are 25,000 hunger-related deaths every day, and more than 800 million people around the world are routinely inadequately nourished. Yet the problem is not one of inadequate food supplies. Our world produces enough to feed all of the world’s people, and real headway in meeting the issue of food distribution is being made. Thus, according to World Bank studies, those living on less than $1.25 per day have been reduced by half over the last 30 years. This kind of meal-packaging work addresses the issue head-on.

Those interested in considering corporate sponsorship may contact Pam Ely at 203-762-1238 or cdwilton@optonline.net. It’s hard to imagine funds being better spent!

Mr. Hudspeth lives on Glen Hill Road.