PEPPERELL — Could there be a more appropriate way to raise money for the hungry than to give up your own food?
One weekend, members of the youth program at the Pepperell Christian Fellowship fasted for 30 hours. The students, ages 12 to 18, used the annual Hungry for Missions to raise funds.
This year, PACH Outreach benefited from their generosity. In early July, the youth group gave the food pantry and outreach center a $2,000 donation.
“It’s a fascinating story of students giving up their weekend — and their food — to help their neighbors,” said Mary Feeley, president of the PACH Board of Directors, in an email.
They fasted from 7:30 Friday morning to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 19 and 20.
While they were fasting, the group stayed at the church. They went to PACH and helped clean, sort and organize the pantry, she said.
Not only that, they organized a pasta meal while fasting and then waited to eat it, said the Rev. Jeff Willette, an associate pastor and one of the parents.
The students came from Pepperell, Townsend, Ayer and Hollis and Francestown N.H. They raised money online through a GoFundMe page and in person.
A free lemonade stand set up at the Nashua River Rail Trail in Ayer raised $250, also for PACH.
“I can’t say enough about the generosity of our volunteers and community for their support of PACH,” Feeley wrote. “Donations are critical to our mission of ensuring none of our neighbors in Pepperell goes hungry.”
PACH provides food for 120 to 130 families each month, said board member Mark Whittaker, who was at the center to receive the donation.
Some of the food is donated and some is bought with donated funds, he said. PACH buys food from the Greater Boston Food Bank and from the Merrimack Valley Food Bank.
The United States Department of Agriculture food that comes from the food banks can include eggs and frozen meat.
Local stores such as Hannaford and Panera also donate to the PACH, he said. And they get fresh produce from a community garden.
PACH helps clients in applying for fuel assistance, Social Security benefits and various support programs.
“We rely on the generous donations from neighbors and businesses in Pepperell to ensure a constant supply of nutritious food and to maintain the PACH office and pantry,” Feeley wrote.
PACH is located in the Peter Fitzpatrick School, a property owned by the town. They are able to use the facilities free-of-charge, but have started to raise money for a time when the space may no longer be available, Whittaker said.
Around 30 volunteers who enable the center to open on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., he said.
Clients can visit the pantry twice a month, Whittaker said. During one trip they can stock up on USDA food, and during the second visit, can get other food.