By Martina Hart CHARLESTON—On Saturday, October 16, 2021 (World Food Day) the Knights of Columbus Council #12630 at the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston hosted a food packing event in collaboration with Cross Catholic Outreach. The 210 volunteers ranging from ages under 8 to over 80 included Knights of Columbus from various councils throughout the state, parishioners of the basilica, Ascension Parish in Hurricane and other area parishes, students of Charleston Catholic High School, Boy Scouts Troop 2, and many others. Working together in two shifts, all clad in yellow T-shirts, hair nets and face masks, they were able to package 100,490 nutritious meals for impoverished children and families. Tables, equipment and supplies had been set up in the Sacred Heart Pavilion on Leon Sullivan Way. After brief instructions provided by Cross Catholic team members, volunteers spread out to the different work stations where each group soon figured out some routine of measuring and weighing, pouring, sealing, labeling, and boxing the food packages. Boxes containing 54 meals each were then stacked onto pallets and plastic wrapped to prepare for their journey. The meals consist of either rice and beans or macaroni and cheese, each fortified with vitamins and other nutrients. The rice and beans meals, which made up 90% of the packages, are being shipped to Guatemala where they will be distributed by local Catholic organizations networking with Cross Catholic. The 10% mac and cheese meals will benefit families in West Virginia. “It was an amazing example of the local Catholic community working together to put their faith into action,” said Terry Waters, Manager of Special Initiatives at Cross Catholic Outreach. “Each day we lose 15,000 children worldwide to starvation. The food that was packed … on Saturday will likely mean the difference between life and death for so many of those who will receive it.” Jack Walsh of the Charleston Council coordinated the event together with his wife Annabelle. Similar food packing events had been held in Kingwood, Morgantown and Wheeling, he explained. The event envisioned for the fall of 2020 in Beckley had to be canceled due to the COVID pandemic. In May of this year, Walsh and Dick Fauss, Grand Knight of the #12630 Council, committed to host the food packing in Charleston this fall. “It was going to be new and different and hard,” Walsh said of the daunting task to not only organize the event but also to commit to packaging 100,000 meals which also meant raising $30,000 in funds. Donations from councils throughout the state, various parishes and individual donors helped to finance the operation. “It’s such a heartwarming event,” Walsh said. “Everything came together, and it was nice to see a lot of families. It was a really nice day for the community, like 200 of the best people together doing the right thing, and Cross Catholic has the program figured out.” He received a lot of positive feedback from volunteers who enjoyed working together for a good cause, oftentimes with people they had not met before. The event was held in memory of Knight George B. Merolle, Jr., who passed away just a year ago on 10/10/2020 and who over many years had cooked countless council family dinners as well as food for fundraising events. “He was a special knight to our council because he set an example about caring for families,” said Fauss. “We really held him in high regards for that. There was not a meal he did not prepare that the leftovers did not go to help someone. So, we dedicated this food packing event to him.” Waters added that Cross Catholic Outreach has been working nationwide with the Knight of Columbus this year in an effort to pack 1 million meals. “The West Virginia Knights certainly helped towards achieving that goal through their efforts,” he said.