Youth group fasts for awareness

First Posted: 8/3/2009

No food. No television. Cardboard boxes for beds. It sounds like how a homeless person would live, but instead its what a group of teenagers at Antioch Baptist Church did for 30 hours in order to raise money and awareness about hunger in America and across the world.
On Sunday at 2 p.m., 13 teenagers and two adults embarked on a journey a 30-hour famine to raise money for World Vision as a mission trip in their own church.
David Gant, the minister of youth and education, wanted to teach the kids to appreciate not only what they do have, but what others do not. To make the experience even a little more realistic, the teens built a cardboard village inside the fellowship hall at the church.
The kids got really creative with their shacks. Eddie Johnson built a two-room shack that included a cardboard TV and a UNC Tarheel pillow. He called it, The Man Cave.
Gant got the idea to build a fake outhouse to prove to the kids things could be worse. At least they did have air conditioning and bathrooms.
At first he wanted to hold the camp in the parking lot of the church, but threatening weather on Sunday brought the group inside. Although they didnt eat any food, they existed on Hawaiian Punch and Gatorade.
The word hunger was off limits.
Air mattresses were banned.
The goal was originally to raise $220, but they quickly exceeded that goal. Gant promised them they could shave his head any way they wanted if they raised $500. As of Monday afternoon, he knew he would be sporting a new hairstyle this weekend.
The kids have already agreed to shave the top of his head and paint the sides white, so he will look like an old man. The hair cut will happen this Saturday just in time for the kids to attend a Winston-Salem Dash baseball game and for church service on Sunday.
To up the ante even more, the Rev. Dale Wallace has agreed to let them shave his head if they raise $5,000. Wallace said he is known for being particular about his hair, so shaving it all off is a real sacrifice. But he said, its for a good cause.
He was giving out $1 bills Monday to teens who came up and gave him hugs.
Now wait a minute. I think Im contributing to getting my hair shaved, he said with a laugh.
Gant said Monday during the famine, he became aware of World Vision when he and his wife went on a mission trip to Costa Rica.
As Gant walked around the cardboard village, he stopped in front of Jon Mabes cardboard shack. He explained that the young man had done a pretty good job in replicating what a homeless person in America would live in.
In Costa Rica, they would build the same type of structures out of tin instead of cardboard, Gant explained.
Stephen Poe built an Army fort, which was attacked overnight by his sister, Mollie.
Christian Phillips built The Crab Shack and also had a make-shift cardboard TV and a dog house.
The kids built a cardboard church as a group, being sure to include a rendition of their reverend. They also built a cell tower, which Gant thought was kind of funny.
Jasmine Garrett was especially proud of her green shack that she named The Jesus Shack.
I didnt use any tape except for one small piece, and that was just so the roof didnt fall off, she said.
Garrett said the experience taught her to see the world in a different way.
It helps you relate to all of the kids who are starving and they have to go through it every day. It makes you realize what its like to sleep in a cardboard box every night. This experience is definitely going to help me appreciate the things I have more knowing what goes on in the real world, Garrett said.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice, according to its Web site.
Gant said 100-percent of the money raised at the church will go to the organization, which not only helps feed the hungry, but builds doctors offices and schools throughout the world. He said the money the church gives toward food will be multiplied five times by the organization through grant money.
He said 26,000 children under the age of 5 die every day because of preventable causes like, hunger, poverty and disease.
World-wide, one in seven people go without enough to eat every day, he said. One dollar a day will feed a child for a whole day. Eating out with your friends or going to the movies will run you $30, thats enough to feed one child for a whole month.
The group had raised about $1,500 on Monday, but Gant is giving the group until Friday to raise more money.
The kids had a pizza party at 8 p.m. to celebrate being able to eat again.
Donations can be dropped off at the church between 8 a.m. and noon daily or mailed to Antioch Baptist Church, c/o Antioch Youth, at 137 Antioch Ave., Mount Airy, NC 27030.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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