SAN DIEGO — “It was beyond our wildest dreams!”
That is how Deacon Mike Daniels described the turnout for the Million Meal Event held over the weekend at Cathedral Catholic High School.
More than 3,000 men, women and children of faith scooped, packed and sealed precisely 1 million meals bound for impoverished families across the border and around the world.
Enthusiastic volunteers arrived early to their shift and stayed late, undeterred by the heat. They came from nearly all parishes in San Diego County, and from Catholic high schools.
They joyfully packed the meals working in 120 tables that lined the campus’s central courtyard, most under tents.
They packed 800,000 meals in two, 2-hour shifts on Saturday and the remaining 200,000 in Sunday’s shift. So many turned out on Sunday, in fact, that the volunteers finished in an hour instead of two that had been planned.
About 500,00 of the meals are bound for Casa de los Pobres, an organization that feeds the neediest families in Tijuana. The rest will be headed to Ukraine and Ecuador.
Sister Armida Andrade, who manages the Casa, addressed the volunteers on Saturday afternoon.
“Many children go to bed hungry and sad,” she said. “These meals will dry their tears and take away their hunger.”
Irene Rodgers came with a group of parishioners from Resurrection Church in Escondido to volunteer in Saturday’s morning shift.
“I think it was wonderful,” said Rodgers afterward. “Older people working alongside kids. All of us Catholics, just willing to give to the poor.”
Deacon Mike Partida was part of that group.
“It was a joyful feeling to be the hands of Christ,” said Deacon Partida. “To come together all at once was an awesome feeling.”
The Million Meal Event was organized by the diocese’s deacons, the first large-scale project they had undertaken. The deacons partnered with Kids Around the World, an organization that aims to bring God’s love to impoverished children through food assistance.
Deacon Daniels and Caroline Kelner, from St. Brigid Parish; Deacon Kevin Murray, from Sacred Heart Parish (Coronado); Deacon James Scull, from Ascension Parish; Deacon Wil Hollowell, from Corpus Christi Parish, spearheaded the event. They had an ambitious goal: attract 3,000 volunteers and raise $250,000 to cover the cost of the food.
“This was a huge success,” Deacon Daniels said after the last meals had been packed. “God blessed us mightily.”