Convoy of Hope's Mission to Feed One
How you can join the movement to help combat world hunger for just $10 a month
Hal Donaldson stared into the kind, tender eyes of Mother Teresa and confessed he wasn't doing anything to care for the poor and suffering. Why would anyone say that to a woman responsible for caring for so many?
Simply because she had asked.
Donaldson, now president and co-founder of the international humanitarian relief organization Convoy of Hope, left India changed forever—and it's safe to say the world is changed, too, for the better. Since 1994, just a few years after his meeting with Mother Teresa, Convoy of Hope has aided more than 67 million people all over the world—that's almost two times the population of California.
As Convoy of Hope celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, Donaldson, staff and volunteers are looking forward to a new goal: providing food for everyone through its feedONE program that's based on the words of Mother Teresa, who said, "If you can't feed a hundred, then just feed one."
Launched in 2013 as part of Convoy of Hope's Children's Feeding Initiative, feedONE looks to individuals to donate $10—the cost of a pizza—to provide one child with nutritious meals for an entire month.
"Just about everybody can participate, whether it's giving one time or giving of themselves to commit on an annual basis," says feedONE Executive Director Chris Sonksen.
Convoy of Hope, which is closely partnered with the Assemblies of God USA as its humanitarian aid arm, began working with orphanages as well as schools to feed children back in 2007. The organization realized that parents who normally wouldn't send their sons and daughters to a local school would do so if it meant they would get a hot meal.
"Food opens the door to education, clean water and hope," Sonksen says. "When you feed a child, you feed a soul."
Through generous partners such as Feed My Starving Children, Convoy of Hope has donated close to $80 million dollars worth of supplies and food.
"Like most everyone, I want to see the day when no one is suffering because they are hungry or malnourished," Donaldson says. The only way such a day will be possible is if individuals, families, churches and organizations continue to work together. At Convoy of Hope, we've seen how powerful teamwork and partnerships can be. Already, we have more than 147,000 children in 11 nations in our feeding initiative. That wouldn't have been possible without the support of many friends and partners who are as committed to ending hunger as we are."
Through the partnerships, children are fed daily in Haiti, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic. And with the help of feedONE, that number is growing day by day. Last year churches, businesses and students on college campuses raised more than $250,000 to feed children through feedONE. In 2014, these three groups have already surpassed the support raised in 2013.
Driven to Help
Donaldson, his two brothers, Steve and Dave, and sister, Susan, know firsthand what it's like to be hungry and live in poverty. In 1969 a drunk driver killed their father, and for more than a year their mother was confined to a hospital room. The Donaldson children had no other choice but to fend for themselves in many ways, also relying on their local church and community.
Shortly after Hal returned from India, the Donaldson brothers began loading a pickup truck to pass out groceries around town. Their efforts led to small outreach events—eventually taking over entire parks and stadiums—to provide medical care, clothes, food and prayer for those in need.
Today Convoy of Hope continues to expand its outreach as it serves guests of honor by providing them with free groceries, haircuts and family portraits; equips farmers and families with the tools necessary to produce life-sustaining crops; encourages women to realize their value and reach their potential through job training and education; and responds in the aftermath of disasters. Convoy of Hope has recruited more than 440,000 volunteers who have worked more than 3.5 million hours throughout the world.
However, while Convoy of Hope meets many needs, its leaders have never forgotten that the organization was born out of a driving passion to give people what most of us take for granted: a full stomach. According to the United Nations' World Food Programme, 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and UNICEF statistics say every 3.6 seconds a person dies from starvation.
As overwhelming as these statistics can be, the solution always begins at a micro level—with one person taking the step to affect a single life. Starting is simple: Visit charismacares.com to give to feedONE. Or sign up to become an ambassador at feedone.com and a representative will make contact. Ambassadors help with planning a feedONE event at their college, church or business.
"It's something they can actually go and do on their own, but we provide the resources," Sonksen says.
Because of this support, the army of feedONE ambassadors continues to grow as word spreads through social media and feedONE events. Churches such as The Oaks Fellowship Church in Red Oak, Texas, are mobilizing believers to get involved. The Oaks Senior Pastor, Scott Wilson, says his church is now sponsoring more than 1,000 children in two Haiti orphanages.
College campuses are also finding ways to get involved through Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, USA. E. Scott Martin, Chi Alpha's national director, says when Donaldson approached him about feedONE, he never hesitated to make the initiative the official compassionate arm of Chi Alpha. As a result, students have raised thousands of dollars, many through creative means such as fundraisers involving participants jumping into a pool of icy water, or student challenges to give up Starbucks a few times each month.
Martin says that with more than 28,000 Chi Alpha members in 300 plus chapters, he expects to see millions of dollars eventually pouring into feedONE as students understand their $10 as well as prayer can make a difference.
"Students realize they are a very indulgent generation," Martin says. "But they are willing to give up some of their indulgences to feed hungry kids. They are much more sensitive to social issues than probably any other preceding generation."
Hal Donaldson agrees, and though feedONE is still in the beginning stages, he knows the road to eradicating world hunger starts with communities of like-minded, proactive individuals.
"When we work together to feed those who are hungry, we take part in giving people hope for a better life too," he says. "That's a powerful thing to be a part of. I know when people helped feed our family it made an immediate and lasting impact that is still with us today."
Sarah Breed is a freelance journalist from Lakeland, Florida. She and her husband, Josh, are moving back to Israel, where they first met, this month.