ShineFest delivers food

Published 9:47 am Monday, July 28, 2008

Out of an attempt to reach out to local individuals and families in need, youths from 10 area churches came together Saturday at Morin Park to give away a free meal, some groceries and some wholesome family fun.

As part of a ShineFest youth event, the youths served a free meal with sloppy joes, organized a concert with Wisconsin-based band “Survive the Drive” and several local youth bands, and gathered donations of food to give away from local businesses and organizations.

Teen organizer Makala Buley, who attends Grace Christian Church, said plans began in March after several verses from the second chapter of James in the Bible kept coming into her life.

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She said through prayer she realized the need of some people in the area and came up with the idea to plan an evening of fun.

More than a dozen youths were involved with the core planning of the event, but there were 30 or 35 youths that came out to volunteer Saturday.

“A lot of people are blind to the fact that Albert Lea is very impoverished,” Buley said.

ShineFest is an ecumenical community-service effort.

While it is still a good thing for people to go on trips to help others overseas, she said, they must remember there are people that need help locally as well.

“I really feel like people are blind to the poverty here,” she said. “We can’t keep leaving and ignoring what’s happening in our own town.”

About 3,000 pounds of food were donated for the event, helping the youths prepare 100 food boxes to give away, plus 40 or 50 larger boxes for large families.

The Rev. George Marin of Grace Christian Church said the Albert Lea Salvation Army donated 2,500 pounds of food for the event, and other businesses such as Hy-Vee, Dairy Queen, Burger King, Arbys and Nelson’s Market Place donated as well.

“Our goal today was to serve 100 families,” Marin said.

He thought the group was close to fulfilling that goal, he said.

In addition to giving away the meal and the groceries, the youths gave away five $25 gas cards.