EAGAN, Minn. — Scoop of vitamins, scoop of dehydrated vegetables, mug of soy protein, mug of rice.
The scoops clinked the metal funnels, and the rice rattled its way through as eight Vikings players got in a rhythm on Tuesday, to assemble Feed My Starving Children (fmsc.org) MannaPacks™ containing six meals each.
Scoop by scoop and mug by mug, sustenance flowed through funnels into bags. The bags were sealed and placed in boxes that will soon be shipped to one of 70 countries to provide relief for hunger-stricken people across the globe.
As the rhythm continued, the impact multiplied from the warehouse space in Eagan, on Lone Oak Road, less than 2 miles from the Vikings headquarters.
In more than an hour, 45 boxes were completed, which will provide 9,720 meals capable of feeding 27 people for an entire year.
Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell made a personal donation of more than $2,100 to cover FMSC’s expenses for the meals packed during the session.
“Forty-five boxes, 9,000 meals, 27 lives saved,” Treadwell said. “That was part of the reason I donated today, to pay for that being done because 27 lives, if you really look at it like that, that’s more than I could ever imagine. I was reading a book on Tony Robbins, and he said he wanted to feed a million people a year, so just 27 lives, that’s amazing in of itself.”
Sincerely appreciative of the help that he received from the community while growing up near Chicago, Treadwell said helping on Tuesday was “an honor.”
“I feel it’s a privilege to come here and help spread positivity throughout the world and help kids who — you know, sometimes we take things for granted, as far as eating and being able to eat every day,” Treadwell said. “It’s good to see that helping out one day can make a difference and save 27 lives in another country.”
Treadwell is one of the most active Vikings during the team’s Community Tuesdays program where players use their one off day a week during the season to make an impact throughout the Twin Cities. He enjoys directly connecting with young people at other events and appreciated the opportunity to help globally.
“Youth is all we have,” Treadwell explained. “Your kids are going to do what you put in them to do, and if you send a message to them early about giving back in the community, they’ll always do it.”
He was joined by Trevor Siemian, Pat Elflein, Danny Isidora, Colby Gossett, Aviante Collins, Storm Norton and Ade Aruna, as well as Viktor the Viking. Several players’ wives, fiancées and girlfriends also participated.
Collins didn’t let his right arm being in a sling stop him from scooping the vitamins and veggies at a rapid pace. The only break he took was to lead a “Clap. Clap. BOX!” Chant modeled after the SKOL Chant to celebrate yet another completed box.
“We had good rapport, that’s for sure,” Siemian said. “A.C. was awesome. For him to be out here in a sling, helping people out any way he can, it’s pretty cool and indicative of his personality, for sure.
“Anything we do off the field brings you closer together, but something like this, when you’re making an impact and doing something positive, it definitely helps out,” Siemian added. “They’re all good dudes, great guys, and real easy to spend time with.”
FMSC’s Dave Stecher, a native of North Dakota, worked in the oil industry for 35 years. Before retiring, Stecher volunteered two days a week at FMSC. Two days a week soon became every day and eventually turned into a staff position.
“My career is done, and my vocation starts,” said Stecher, who likes working for the nonprofit because supplying nutrition to hungry people can make an immediate impact.
From 1994-2004, FMSC distributed two million meals a year.
The organization has grown to 332 million between March 2017 and February 2018 and has set a goal of 365 million for its fiscal 2018-19 year.
The Eagan location, which is one of three in the Twin Cities along with Coon Rapids and Chanhassen, features 10 packing tables that can host up to 200 volunteers, plus a warehouse space in which another 20 can help. It also features arts and crafts from partners that are sold as fundraisers.
FMSC has three locations in the Chicago area, one in Mesa, Arizona, and one near Dallas, Texas.
The organization also has widespread mobile operation capabilities that were responsible for more than 74 million of the 333 million meals provided.
FMSC Development Advisor Lisa Feese Burns, who on Tuesday celebrated her fifth anniversary with the organization, said 54 percent of the donations come from volunteers.
“The money follows their heart,” Feese Burns said. “They spend two hours with people and leave on a real high. It’s hard to explain, but they’ve made such a difference.”
Volunteer Program Supervisor Jane Shayer, an Iowa native, moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota in April to work for FMSC. Shayer provides encouragement and the music for groups as they pack the meals rapidly but without wasting ingredients.
“People helping people,” Shayer said, observing the room. “They give two hours and make a difference for an entire life.”
Those interested in volunteering, can view available shifts and sign up at fmsc.org.