JOLIET, Ill. – Many months of planning culminated April 6 as the University of St. Francis (USF) community pulled off a major event to feed hungry children across the globe.
The Twin Cities-based Feed My Starving Children organization partnered with students and community members to successfully execute a MobilePack event on USF’s campus. Led by the University Ministry staff and junior Brandon Collofello of Minooka, the USF student team worked tirelessley for months to make the event a reality. Key participants included Samantha Aguilera, Kristen Anderson, Marisa Dressler, Leslie Durden, Ryan Kalinoski, Judith Legorreta, Kenny Mason, Allison Rhodes of Minooka, Mary Kate Sanders, Ashley Sikyta, Erin Suttman, Ketura Taylor (Cary) and Devan Trueba. The entire event was overseen by Julie Krakora, USF’s director of university ministry.
“Some members of the student leadership team had tears of joy when they heard we packed over 101,000 meals,” Krakora said. “We were also astounded by the nearly $2,000 in funds which came in that day. While we still need $6,000 to reach our $22,000 goal, this was an absolute success to be celebrated — born from our students’ passion.”
The meals were packed by teams of volunteers from USF and the community, including local high schools, area churches, scouting groups, families and more.
One group of eighth graders from Crone Middle School in Naperville was there to volunteer and celebrate a birthday. Alyssa Metlicka, daughter of USF College of Education professor Donna Metlicka, decided earlier in the month that she wanted her 14th birthday party to happen during the Feed My Starving Children event at USF.
“Girls her age usually have parties with roller skating or nail-painting, but Alyssa said she wanted to volunteer,” her mother, Donna, said. “She realized she’d have family coming to celebrate her birthday with her, and that she’d be getting presents, all while there are kids out there who don’t even have food. I thought it was really sweet for a 14-year old to be so selfless.”
When asked what she looked most forward to about volunteering, the birthday girl said with a humble smile, “A lot of people don’t get the opportunities I do, so I just want to give back. I am excited about packing food and having fun!”
Alyssa’s brother, father and grandmother also came to participate in the MobilePack event.
The Metlickas weren’t the only family working together for others. In addition to some alumni and staff family groups and husband-wife teams, USF nursing student Kylie Pommier had her clan at her side. Included were two best friends from USF, Katie Mitchell and Megan Tjelle of Coal City; her two younger sisters, Maria and Taryn Truppa; and her mom, Jennifer Truppa, who joked that she was a mega-volunteer that day. Truppa had started her day by taking kids to track practice, then to softball practice, then helping at “Operation Welcome You Home” in Plainfield to greet a returning marine, then finishing up by packing meals at Feed My Starving Children. “And after this, it might be time for a margarita!” she laughed.
When Pommier was asked how she first became interested in FMSC, she explained, “One day I asked my mom if we could volunteer at a soup kitchen sometime. She looked around and found Feed My Starving Children. We went to the facility in Aurora first and really liked it, and now we’ve done a bunch of their events. I was really excited when I heard there was going to be one at USF.”
Seven-year-old Taryn was having a ball with the meal packing but also seemed to sense the more sensitive issues at hand. “I did this about seven or eight times with my whole family and I really like how all of the people are helping other people who are starving. I really like how everybody cares about each other.”