By KATHRYN DODGE
For the Keizertimes

They may be a family with twin two-year-olds, your neighbor, the senior citizen down the street, the homeless, the addicted, or those who have lost their jobs.

People who are hungry are often “invisible” to most of us. For the youth group of Keizer Christian Church (KCC), these people became much more visible.

During the week of July 19, this youth group travelled a thousand miles between Portland and Grants Pass, helping nine organizations feed the hungry.

Their “Feed My Sheep” mission began at home with the Marion-Polk Food Share where they bagged more than 900 pounds of beans and rice and then served 98 people at the Keizer Community Food Bank.

The trip provided educational opportunities as well, learning about issues that contribute to situations of hunger and choices they can make.

James Greeney (left to right), Bailey Norbo, Zach Arnold and Aurora Dodge prepare dinner at the Corvallis Soup Kitchen. (Submitted photo)

“Guys, you never want to be in a place like this. Never  do drugs or alcohol or you will end up like us,” was the advice provided by one man at the Burnside Men’s Shelter in Portland.

“We saw a family that had three adults and two baby twins that were talking about going to take baths in the fountain in the park. I felt like I should be able to help more than by just serving food to them, but I had no other option,” expressed Aurora Dodge, an eighth grader at Whiteaker Middle School.

The KCC group provided help in a variety of ways during the week: preparing and serving a full dinner from scratch; packing and carrying food boxes, unloading, sorting and stocking food items and toiletries, and lots of cleaning, weeding, and various yard work at organizations helping to end hunger.

“Outside of pictures of Ethiopia, I saw one of the most emaciated (person) I have ever seen. We are very proud of this group of young adults,” said Pastor Bob Arnold. “They never complained, even when asked to do some of the most difficult cleaning I have ever done in my life.”

Two other chaperones, Ed Query and Kathryn Dodge, agreed with Arnold’s assessment of the participating youth.

In Corvallis, they were short of volunteers and called this group their “miracle.”

Luke Puppo, a Wilsonville sixth grader, talked about how grateful he is for what he has, a sentiment echoed by all who participated.

They also said they didn’t realize how many people were hungry and homeless.

“If we all help we could make a big difference,” said Bailey Norbo, an eighth grader at Whiteaker.

As the oldest young men in the group, McNary students James Greeney and Zach Arnold were charged with lifting and carrying 50-pound sacks and heavy boxes of food.

Even though tired, both expressed that their “lives are changed from this experience.  These aren’t just the hungry or homeless, they are also children of God, and we are called to help.”

The individuals served ranged in age from a newborn through late stages in life. In total, the youth group directly served food to more than 300 people, and indirectly helped feed hundreds more.

Other locations where the group went included Shepherd’s Door Women’s Shelter in Portland, First Christian Church Soup Kitchen in Corvallis, The ROC of Grants Pass, First Christian Church Lebanon Soup Kitchen and Murray Hills Christian Church Food Bank.