Saving the world, one meal at a time
Kristina Johnson, far right, and members of Youth Sent to Serve.
By Kristina Johnson
In March of 2012, I decided that I wanted to start my Girl Scout Gold Award project.
After thinking about a few project ideas, I began to look at my home congregation, Hosanna Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Rochester, Minn. It occurred to me that most of the events for youth at my church were more for fun and not for service. So after talking with my pastor and youth director and after asking the chair of the youth ministry team to be my project advisor, I decided that for my Girl Scout Gold Award project I would form a new ministry team called Youth Sent to Serve.
The main goal of this ministry team was to provide community service projects for Hosanna’s middle and high school youth and friends. Another goal was to inspire youth to look at volunteering as a way of doing God’s work through service for others.
At the first meeting, my team and I decided that all of the service projects done in the first year should focus on hunger. The team also decided to educate the congregation about the prevalence of hunger in our community and in the world.
During this first year the Youth Sent to Serve team planned and helped with 17 service projects related to hunger. More than 40 youth and 20 adults volunteered, and a total of 278 volunteer hours were logged!
- Hosanna Community Garden -- We helped with planting and harvesting vegetables; all proceeds were donated to the Channel One Food Bank. I really enjoyed knowing that all of my work would benefit others!
- Channel One Food Bank -- We were kept very busy repackaging food items. I learned the value of teamwork and how good it feels to help others!
- Susan’s Suppers -- This ministry team prepares hot dishes that are given to those in need. We prepared 14 hot dishes. After helping make these meals, I learned not to take home-cooked meals for granted!
- Salvation Army -- We helped serve 130 lunches in just four hours! This experience helped me realize that hunger is everywhere and not just in developing countries.
- Dorothy Day House -- We prepared dinner and served it to 43 guests and 10 volunteers. We also ate the meal with them. During dinner, one of the residents asked one of my team members about our ministry team and about Christianity. What an awesome opportunity to tell others about Jesus Christ!
- Cardboard Box City -- My team members and I raised money for two local organizations that work with hungry and homeless people. We also stayed overnight in a cardboard box! This was truly a humbling experience! I can’t imagine having to live in a box night after night!
- Hosanna Sharing Basket/Food Pantry -- During the month of October, my team and I collected food items for Hosanna’s food pantry. We collected 181 food items, surpassing our goal by 81 items! This project helped me realize just how generous people can be.
- Hosanna’s Thanksgiving Dinners -- This was a new project at Hosanna, planned by our team. It also took the most time; however, it was the most rewarding too. We prepared and distributed dinners for 10 needy families. We baked 10 homemade pies and prepared 10 sets of homemade mashed potatoes. We also assembled baskets with additional food items, including frozen turkeys. It was gratifying for me and my brother, Tanner, to be able to deliver two of the baskets to shut-ins. The elderly women who received them were very grateful!
- Christmas Anonymous -- My team members and I helped pack about 80 bags of food. Again, I was struck by people’s generosity -- as all of the food was donated.
- In His Name -- We helped fill orders for low-cost food boxes for the needy. This event helped me realize just how many organizations there are that are dedicated to helping the hungry.
I am so grateful for all of the wonderful organizations that we worked with, and I believe that focusing on hunger was the right thing to do.
One in seven people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight! The problem of hunger is an international issue that will not solve itself.
Youth Sent to Serve’s mission statement is “Hosanna Youth Sent to Serve ... saving the world, one meal at a time!” I think that this mission statement is especially appropriate because the fight to end hunger will not be accomplished overnight. It requires a lasting effort and commitment. The Youth Sent to Serve team plans to continue.
Kristina Johnson is a member of Hosanna Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minn., a junior at Century High School, and a member of Girl Scout Troop #40213.