University Students in Illinois Lift Their Collective Voice
An Offering of Letters can happen anywhere—even outside a cafeteria on a college campus.
At the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, four student leaders set up a table outside the cafeteria—a high traffic area—that included a video slideshow showing hunger facts.
Over three days, the students talked about Bread’s mission to end hunger with those who stopped at the table.
Jessica Peek, director of university ministry, said it wasn’t always easy to convince students that the letters would lead to change. “Many have been jaded by society and believe that there isn’t hope in the system,” Peek said.
To counter that, she shared with students the impact letter-writing campaigns have made over the years.
Students, faculty, and staff all contributed letters. Some simply signed their names, others included personal testimonies, and some even wrote their own letters. Overall, 288 letters were collected, mostly from students, but many from others on campus as well.
A Florida Congregation Joins the Movement
After returning from a workshop in Washington, D.C., about maternal and child nutrition, Rev. Margaret Baleh Kartwe knew she wanted her Norland United Methodist Church congregation to learn more about the issue.
“Coming from Liberia, I know what it means for a mother to have proper nutrition when she is pregnant so that her child can have a good start in life,” she said.
As a result, Bread for the World was invited to conduct the church’s first-ever Offering of Letters.
About 50 parishioners gathered in the church’s welcome center to participate. As newcomers to the process, parishioners had many questions: What facts are important to include in my letter? Where do I mail my letter? How do I follow up?
Parishioners wrote letters to their Florida lawmakers, asking them to fund global nutrition. The church plans to participate in another Offering of Letters this year, Kartwe said.
West Coast Kids Speak Up for Others
At Maranatha Covenant Church in Richmond, California, young voices took center stage in the church’s Offering of Letters. Kids ages 6 to 15 participated in a two-hour workshop to learn about malnutrition and how to write a letter to their member of Congress. The youngest drew pictures and wrote small words.
Mabeyli Pool Varquez, the church’s children ministry leader, used the story of God calling Moses to help the Israelites to guide the workshop. “I wanted to encourage kids and teach them that regardless of their young age they matter, they are chosen and are empowered to use their voice to help those in need,” she said.
Varquez hand-delivered the letters to the office of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and read some aloud at last year’s Advocacy Summit. As a child growing up in Mexico, she witnessed malnutrition. She never imagined that years later, as an adult, she would deliver letters written by children about malnutrition to a lawmaker.