World Hunger Day celebrating its 30th anniversary
by Staff Writer
It’s a yard sale, bake sale and craft sale, a barbecue, auction and live music venue and it’s turning 30. The annual World Hunger Day event, organized by First Baptist Church in Huntersville, will raise money to feed the hungry in the area and around the world.
“As a Christian, God expects us, as a matter of fact, commands us to love one another. This is one way of us doing that,” Bev Clayton, a founder of World Hunger Day, said.
This year, First Baptist Church will hold the 30th anniversary of World Hunger Day. Starting at 7 a.m., and lasting until 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, the event is expected to raise over $30,000.
But this event wasn’t always so successful.
Over 30 years ago, a small group of men met for a Bible study at the church where they spent time reviewing the men’s journal published by the Southern Baptist Convention. Among the many articles detailing the mission works of other churches, Clayton noticed many of the articles focused on the issue of world hunger.
“We realized that we were taking that (issue) kind of lightly,” Clayton said. “What can we do to help meet these needs of the world?”
The group decided to pursue a yard sale where all funds raised would be donated to the World Hunger Fund, an immediate relief fund directed by the Southern Baptist Convention. The sale raised around $1,000 in its first year, Clayton said.
“That first couple of years … I think God had put in us a sense of needing to help feed the hungry,” he said. “As it is today, there were large numbers of children around the world that were dying from hunger. And so you know, we all had jobs, and we can’t jump up and run somewhere and carry them a plate, but we can do this.
Today, the small group’s vision is a church-wide, annual event known as World Hunger Day, and has raised over $782,000 through the years for global needs, as well as local ones in the Lake Norman community.
Janet Webb, the office manager at First Baptist and an organizer of the event, said that the funds are no longer donated to the World Hunger Fund, but are used to help support other charity organizations like Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, Angels and Sparrows Soup Kitchen in Huntersville and a school in Haiti, where the money donated provides food for 2,000 Haitian students.
The focus of the event is to show the community they are contributing to a good cause, Webb said. World Hunger Day has become a community event where locals can benefit from the sale itself, she said.
“Personally, I believe we need to help each other out as much as we can. In doing that, if it involves feeding people, clothing people, help them with furniture … if we help people get those things, then it helps them believe in themselves, and that leads to getting them jobs,” Clayton said.
This year, the event will also have a Resource Fair, a component that is new to World Hunger Day.
“Because so many families are facing hard times, we wanted to provide information and resources to them about the health and human service agencies in the north Mecklenburg area,” Jerri Haigler, publicity chairperson, said in an email.
Many organizations have been invited. Solomon House, Lydia’s Loft, Angels and Sparrows Soup Kitchen and United Way of Central Carolinas have all confirmed that they are attending the fair.
Clayton said he attributes the success of the event over the years to the continued commitment to donate all proceeds, rather than using it personally for the church.
“From day one, it has been agreed that all funds on this day, the day we had the sale, would be used toward something off campus; in other words, none of it would be diverted for church use,” Clayton said, “and we have stuck to that since 1981.”