Family's charity hits 1 million mark with meals
Nov 07, 2012 (The Charlotte Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Jeff and Suzanne Yoh said it started when they began looking for a charity project their family of five could take on as a team.
On Saturday, that simple dream will hit a milestone, when the south Charlotte couple's zero-budget nonprofit -- Kids Against Hunger Charlotte -- expects to package its 1 millionth meal for the hungry.
Their current tally is 996,840. The final 3,160 will be packed by hundreds of volunteers recruited for an assembly-line affair at Harrison United Methodist Church in Pineville.
In all, 50,000 dehydrated meals will be packed Saturday, said Suzanne Yoh.
The nonprofit has used more than 3,000 volunteers in the past year to package its meals, which were paid for through donations from churches, schools and local companies.
"We managed to tap into something, a vein in the community, and once word got around, it resulted in a momentum," said Jeff Yoh, who owns an insurance restoration firm, rebuilding houses.
"What we've done is come up with a simple way for people to help others," said Suzanne Yoh. "They walk out the door feeling like they've made an impact by keeping kids from going hungry."
That impact is felt both here and in countries as far away as Nicaragua.
Nearly 16,000 of the meals went to Charlotte families via a pantry at the Harvest Center, which serves up to 2,000 people a month. The nonprofit has also helped with events to teach poor families how to prepare the dehydrated food.
"In this economy, dry goods are hard to come by, so Kids Against Hunger Charlotte has helped substantially," said Greg Lee, manager of programs at the Harvest Center.
"I'm picking up a pallet Saturday, and that will be 60 cases of good, healthy food that we can give people the week before Thanksgiving. That's a blessing."
The Yohs have partnered with the nonprofit international relief agency Samaritans International of Waxhaw to get their packaged food delivered to Nicaragua for distribution by charities.
The Yohs' charity is actually the local satellite of a national organization, Kids Against Hunger, based in New Hope, Minn. Its mission is to reduce hunger among children around the world.
In Charlotte, it's truly a family-run affair, with each of the Yoh children overseeing different operations. Jeffrey, 18, is in charge of packaging areas; Alec, 16, coordinates resupply; and Abby, 14, monitors production flow.
The couple say they got the idea to create the nonprofit nearly three years ago, after attending an event in which two churches combined forces to pack 1 million meals over three weeks.
"It really touched our hearts, and we liked the concept," said Suzanne Yoh. "It's something that even kids can be involved in with their parents and there's not a lot of that out there. We need to show kids that this is what's expected of them."
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