By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Last weekend, the members of The Youth Group at Van Orsdel United Methodist Church learned a little about what it's like to go hungry and raised money for the fight to end hunger worldwide.
Eight teenagers participated in World Vision's 30 Hour Famine, forgoing food from 1 a.m. on Saturday to 7 a.m. on Sunday. The group has raised more than $800 through donations so far and hopes to reach $1,000 when the fund raising ends Wednesday.
Eighth-grader Kaden Keto said the fasting made him feel the plight of hungry people worldwide.
"I think it's one of the most important things I've ever done," he said. "(Hunger) is really a problem that we need to solve. It brought me closer to the experiences of impoverished people."
The only thing the kids consumed during the 30-hour period was water. They played games, watched a movie and went out to collect donations in order to keep their minds off of food. This was Keto's second year. He said that last year a few kids got sick from the lack of food, but this year the event went off without a hitch.
"You feel sick, but it's worth it," Havre High School senior Logan Beilke said. He also participated for the second year in a row.
"I learned that we're very fortunate to live here," Beilke said. "We should all do something to help the starving people around the world."
HHS freshman Tony Filler said the event couldn't compare to what some people have to go through.
"People all over the world are starving every day, so I figured I could go for 30 hours," he said.
According to World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization, 29,000 children worldwide die every day from hunger and preventable diseases. Also, 400 million people have died in the last 50 years from hunger and poor sanitation.
The problem is not just a foreign one. According to World Vision, 36.3 million people in the United States, including 13 million children, live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger.
Last year, teens participating in the 30 Hour Famine raised $11.4 million, prompting a goal of $13.5 million for 2005. World Vision will send funds raised this year to Kenya, Sudan, Chad, southeast Asia and elsewhere.
Pam West, who leads The Youth Group along with Paula Beilke and Marlene Reinke, said the participants shared their experiences with the congregation at the Sunday morning service.
"It was a real eye-opener on how fortunate we are to live in a country where food is readily available," she said.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to support the group's cause can call Beilke at 265-5850 or the church at 265-4232.
Filler said the fast taught him an important lesson.
"From now on, I'll eat all of my food," Filler said. "I won't waste it. There are kids that strive for just one bite."
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