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  • Rev. Helena Martin

"Famine" Returns to St. Paul's

Last weekend our youth in grades 6-12 participated in a Famine Weekend. They spent time fasting, serving their neighbors, and learning about food insecurity in our community and the world. This marks an exciting return to a beloved St. Paul's youth tradition!

Friday night: Fasting and Learning

Starting on Friday night, the participating youth met for a pizza "Last Supper" before fasting for the next 20+ hours. That evening, they played games and learned about hunger-related social safety nets.

They even formed into "families" of 3-4 people and had to meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as if they were on SNAP benefits. They went to Dollar Tree to purchase their meals—127 pounds of food—which they donated to Southington Community Services!

Saturday morning: Rise Against Hunger

On Saturday morning, youth helped set up for the Rise Against Hunger event at the Elks Lodge. They then joined many other volunteers from St. Paul's and Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation (74 volunteers in total) to rise against hunger!

The volunteers worked for 2 hours to package 12,960 meals. In total, the event also raised $6,540.25 to donate to the Rise Against Hunger organization.

A huge thanks goes out to everyone who volunteered and donated—and especially to Tim Bottone, who worked hard to make the event happen again this year.

Saturday afternoon: Church by the Pond

The youth and their chaperones then returned to St. Paul's to package "blessing bags" for housing- and food-insecure people in Hartford. Each bag contained a to-go meal, a bottle of water, and a package of toiletries. (Thank you to everyone who donated toiletries over the past month!)

They then joined me at Bushnell Park in Hartford to worship at Church by the Pond, a congregation of Christ Church Cathedral. We shared Eucharist on the sidewalk with a few of the parishioners there.

And since it was a dreary day and attendance at the outdoor service was low, the Cathedral volunteers took our leftover blessing bags back to the Cathedral to give out during their Sunday meal service.

Saturday evening: Breaking the Fast

Finally, the participating youth returned to St. Paul's to break their fast with a shared meal of soup and bread.

I want to thank the 11 young people who participated in various parts of the Famine. And a special thanks goes out to the many adults who made this Famine Weekend happen: drivers, chaperones, teachers, soup-makers, and planners—and, of course, Meredith Bandish, who spearheaded the weekend. (And all without a Director of Christian Formation, no less.)

Here's to bringing back the sleepover component next year, too!


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