Teen Uses Her Birthday to Feed Children in Need

01/24/13

What did you do for your fourteenth birthday party? Most of us probably spent the day opening presents and eating cake with friends. But who would have thought of packaging meals for children halfway across the world? That’s exactly what fourteen-year-old Annika decided to do for her birthday party. “For someone who hasn't done this [package meals], it might not seem like the best birthday,” says Annika. “But at the end of this, you have a really good feeling. You don't have a bunch of useless stuff. I mean, this is doing real good.”

 
For her party, Annika invited friends to join her in packaging meals in her garage and asked them to donate money to Children of the Nations (COTN) in lieu of birthday gifts. It was a rainy day, says COTN's Fraser Ratzlaff, who helped put on the event, but “we cranked up some fun music and had a blast.” Annika’s friends helped her raise $500 (to cover the cost of sending the meals overseas) and brought her a few birthday gifts as well. Together they packaged 2,000 meals, which COTN will use to feed children in Africa and the Caribbean. Annika and her friends were excited to know they’re providing healthy food for children in need. “It just feels amazing that you can actually do that,” Annika says. “It's mind-blowing.”
 
Annika participated in her first meal packaging event through her church, Missio Lux, in Sammamish, Washington, about three years ago and has been to several more since. “When we started doing this,” Annika says of the events at her church, “it was so fun. It was a win-win. I don't know … it's just a fun thing to do, and I just love doing it.”
 
Annika has some advice for anyone who might be considering hosting their own meal packaging event. “It's fun and you're actually making a difference,” she says. “If you're even thinking about it, do it! No more thinking, just do it!”
 
You can help feed children by planning your own meal packaging event. Or, sign up to sponsor a child today!