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Starksboro couple teams up with Mount Abe to fight hunger

STARKSBORO — A Starksboro couple is spearheading an effort to send more than a quarter of a million meals to hungry children in Haiti, and is enlisting the help of students and student athletes at Mount Abraham Union High School.
Nancy and Greg Orvis are raising money for With Love From Vermont, a Chittenden County-based charity that reaches into Addison and Rutland counties, which sends food packages to targeted audiences in poor countries.
The Orvises hope to motivate Mount Abe athletes by pledging to donate to the fund drive based in part on the number of goals and touchdowns the Eagle football and soccer teams score. They are also providing an opportunity for students, and anyone else, to help package the food that will be sent overseas.
With Love From Vermont is a partner of Feed My Starving Children, an international Christian charity based in Minnesota. Industry watchdog Charity Navigator gave FMSC four stars, its highest rating.
WLFV, with the help of the Orvises, is raising money for food packs of rice and potatoes that only require the addition of boiling water.
“The food packets are scientifically engineered to feed children that are starving,” Nancy Orvis said. There are other benefits to these packs — for example, the potato packs were designed to help children recover from diarrhea, the leading cause of death among malnourished children.
WLFV will pay for the packs and to ship them overseas. Their goal is to send 272,000 packs — the number it will take to fill an entire tractor-trailer. Each meal costs 22 cents, so the goal is to raise $60,000.
While riding her bicycle a couple of weeks ago, Nancy Orvis had an epiphany — With Love From Vermont should enlist the help of the Mount Abraham sports teams. All three of the Orvis children graduated from Mount Abraham. After deciding what would be a good challenge for the athletes, Nancy Orvis devised a system — every time Mount Abe scored, she and her husband would donate: 10 meals for a goal in soccer or field hockey, 20 meals for a touchdown in football.
All 12 junior varsity and varsity teams at Mount Abe will be participating. Orvis went to the Mount Abe football game this past Saturday. The Eagles found the end zone five times and thus “earned” 100 meals — not a bad start for Orvis.
As of Wednesday, the tally stands at 1,200 meals. Orvis said she expects that number to double.
There is no doubt the meals will be going to those in need.
According to statistics compiled by Hunger Relief International, another Christian charity, more than two-thirds of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and there are as many as 600,000 orphans in the country. The Caribbean island nation continues to rebuild after a devastating earthquake near Port-au-Prince in 2010 that killed more than 200,000 people.
For Orvis, the need to feed Haiti’s malnourished children is imperative.
“When the body is starving it can’t function properly,” she said.
Despite the lack of stability in the country, Orvis said she is confident all the food will reach the children of Haiti.
“Feed My Starving Children has a 99 percent success rate with getting donated food to those who need it,” she said.
At such a minimal cost per meal, Orvis hopes their goal is attainable.
“I see how easily we spend money in America, just going out for pizza or McDonald’s,” Orvis said. “People in other countries don’t know that much money is around.”
With Love From Vermont was formed in 2012 by churches in the Chittenden County. It now also works with groups in Addison and Rutland counties, and has 20-25 volunteers on an ongoing basis. Fred Kenney is president of the nonprofit organization.
“The purpose of WLFV is to relieve starvation and hunger around the world,” Kenney said. “We work with non-governmental organizations in 170 countries to make sure food gets to the children it’s intended for.”
He praised the Orvises for incorporating the Mount Abraham athletic program.
“What the Orvises are doing is very creative,” Kenney said.
This is the second year WLFV will send food abroad. Last year, 600 volunteers packed 132,000 meals in Essex. The goal this year, Kenney said, is to double the number of volunteers. In addition to the pack site at Albert D. Lawton Intermediate School in Essex, another pack site at Mount Abe will be added.
The packs will be held Oct. 18 from 7-9 p.m. and Oct. 19 from 9-11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and 2-4 p.m. The organization is looking for more volunteers to help on those days. So far, 24 Mount Abraham students have signed up to help.
“We hope for this to be an annual event and grow each year,” Kenney said. “Someday we hope to pack 1 million meals in Vermont.”
If you are interested in volunteering, you can register on the With Love From Vermont website at www.withlovefromvermont.com/volunteer.

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