15 United Way of Cumberland County will be holding their second annual meal packing event Aug. 25 at Snyder Baptist Memorial Church. During the event, volunteers will be packing 35,000 meal packets which will then be donated to Fayetteville Urban Ministries and Catholic Charities USA, both local organizations that help homeless and needy people in Cumberland County.

Melissa Reid, director of resource development with United Way Cumberland County, said she is excited about the event.

“In the past when we’ve had a campaign kick off, it was a sit-down type of event. Last year when we were able to get back to it after COVID, we decided we needed to do something different,” she said. “Instead of everyone sitting there listing to people talk, we wanted to do something hands on because that’s what we are about, helping the community.”

United Way’s mission is to “improve the quality of lives in Cumberland County by addressing critical human needs,” according to their website. The meal packing event is one of the ways Reid hopes to be able to carry out that mission.

Last year was the first time United Way held a meal packing event. In the two hours they had allotted for volunteers, they packed 26,000 meal packets. The meal packets were then distributed to Fayetteville Urban Ministries.

“I reached out to Johnny at Urban Ministries a few months ago and I said, ‘did you all use the packets we gave to you last year?’ And he said yes … It took about two months, all the meal packets were gone by the end of October. That tells you right there the need,” Reid said.

This year, she was able to secure a grant for funds for even more meal packets. Reid hopes to pack up 35,000 packets with the more than 200 volunteers needed for the event. Those interested in volunteering for the event can sign up at https://www.unitedway-cc.org/.

“PWC signed up for 25 individuals,” said Reid. “The town of Hope Mills weren’t a part of it last year, but I spoke to the mayor, Jackie Warner, and she said the town was going to be involved this year. It’s a great team building event, that is what Kelly Wallace with Beasley told me last year.”

Athletes from Fayetteville Technical Community College volunteered their time last year and are planning on coming back again.

“Last year, the diversity in the room was amazing. Different races, different financial backgrounds. We had some CEOS and stay-at-home moms, youths. Firemen, policemen. The city of Fayetteville really showed up last year, it was really heart warming.”

Reid also said she likes to make the event fun with hand clappers, beach balls and pom poms.

“Last year, I tried to start the wave,” she joked.

The meal packing event will take place at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those interested in volunteering should visit the United Way website. Reid said for those who can’t volunteer but would still like to help, there is a “donate” button on the website.
“Be the change,” she said, echoing the 2022-23 campaign slogan. “Come in here and help your community.”

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