Liberty community volunteers pack over 250,000 meals for Ukraine refugees
LU Serve is taking its own twist on the classic Bible story of the feeding of the 5,000. Instead of feeding 5,000 people with only a few loaves of bread and fish, they are feeding those who are over 5,000 miles away from Lynchburg in the war-torn nation of Ukraine. Over 1,500 students and faculty signed up for a two-hour time slot on Friday, March 3 to put together meals for both Ukrainian refugees and those still living in the country.
While Liberty’s LU Serve department at the Office of Spiritual Development hosted the event, it also partnered with an organization called Feed My Starving Children, which helps to provide food for children in times of crisis around the world, as well as Coca-Cola Consolidated. These meals will be sent through another group that Liberty partnered with called World Help and then distributed through Greater Europe Mission partners.
This all-day event took place at the LaHaye Recreation and Fitness Center behind the Thomas Indoor Soccer Center. Students and faculty lined up at the door to receive their required hair net, wash their hands and have their 10-minute orientation. Upbeat songs could be heard over the loudspeakers to encourage students as they hustled to their assigned stations to get to work packing the meals.
There are over 8 million Ukrainian refugees spread out across Europe, according to one of LU Serve’s directors Steven Gillum. The meals will go to help these refugees, and some will go to the Ukrainians who are residing in Bucharest, Romania, at the refugee centers there, which are part of Greater Europe Missions. The meals will also go on convoy vans to be distributed throughout Ukraine where families are surrounded by armed conflict or the other 5 million Ukrainians who have been displaced within the country.
A network called Ukrainian Bucharest Church (UBC22) will help to facilitate the distribution to these families that are associated with Ukrainian churches or from pastors whom they might know. Gillum said the value behind events like this go beyond just encouraging students to help out for the one day.
“LU Serve believes these types of on-campus events really help create a tangible way for the student body to give back, to serve and to help inspire students to really look outside of themselves,” Gillum said. “We also want to help inspire students to think about the needs of their community, whether that’s locally, domestically or globally. In this particular case, it would be thinking about the Ukrainian people.”
When LU Serve asked these partnering organizations if this meal packing for Ukraine event would be of need, they received an emphatic “yes.” Gillum explained how they want to work directly with those who are on the ground in Ukraine to ensure LU Serve is meeting Ukrainian needs the best way possible and at the same time sharing
“I think what I’ve seen is God’s continual favor on the university by the administration and our leadership saying that this is a good thing because (of) the resources provided, the space provided and the amount of participation,” Gillum said. “I think God’s presence has been just affirming and confirming of why we do what we do.”
Katelyn Wood, a freshman youth ministries student at Liberty, volunteered at the event and said she was inspired by what LU Serve was doing and wanted to do what she could to help.
“I want to make an impact in the world around me and want to help those who need help,” Wood said. “I love getting to serve alongside my friends and getting to make an impact on the world around me and show people that they’re loved, and that there are people out there who want to help (the Ukrainian people) and pray for them.”
To find out more about future service opportunities with LU Serve, visit their website.
Lechner is the social media and web manager for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter