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Have you ever missed a meal? Know that growling feeling when you skipped breakfast? People in countries all over the globe feel these pangs and far worse on a daily basis. Some Port teens decided, not only to do something to help, but to experience - albeit in condensed form - the discomfort of hunger firsthand.

So, on one recent chilly winter weekend, for 30 straight hours, these teens - most of whom are part of the United Methodist Church's Youth Group (and a few who are not) went without food entirely. They had spent the previous weeks getting sponsors to donate money for each of the 30 hours of fasting. They began their fast during the Friday school day and continued until Saturday evening. But these kids were by no means idle during their hungry time! Friday evening they all met at the Port Washington train station where they met rush hour commuters with an information table and donation jar. After a night sleeping on the floor of the church, they got up to a sunny Saturday morning. They spent several hours shuttling canned food from The Lutheran Church of Our Savior on Franklin Avenue, to Our Lady of Fatima in Manorhaven, where they were met by Sister Kathy. After receiving brief instructions, they set to sorting and stocking the food into Fatima's Food Pantry, a much-needed resource used by about 70 needy Port families.

A highlight of the weekend was the kids' trip to the Sands Point Nursing Home where they serenaded the residents with songs they had rehearsed especially for the occasion. Many were moved to tears, not only by the warmth of the singing, but by the joyful response of the elderly residents. One woman asked them to sing Over the Rainbow, a song they had not practiced. Not only did they sing it beautifully in harmony, but they saw that many of the older folks were singing along, never missing a beat or a word. Not a dry eye in the house. Afterward, some of the kids said this was their favorite part of the entire weekend.

Then on to Stop and Shop where they set up their table and signs again, informing shoppers of their endeavor and accepting donations. After, they zipped back to the Methodist Church where they set to painting the Youth Lounge (a community room in high demand by many local community groups) with vibrant new colors. Finally, exhausted, (and covered in red and gold paint) the hungry crusaders were invited to sit down for a specially prepared dinner to break their fast. Food never tasted so good! They ate and chatted about their unforgettable experience ... and ate some more.

In the end, about $3,000 was raised. An amazing amount! They told the entire proud congregation about their experiences the following morning at Sunday service.

Many kudos go to Dave and Maureen Peraza, who spearheaded the entire event and thanks also to Pastor Eldon Simpson who lent his constant support, not only by fasting with the kids, but by checking in, talking with them and celebrating their achievement with them. Also thanks to all parents who lent an hour, a day or the whole weekend to help out. You know who you are!

The United Methodist Church of Port Washington is located at 35 Middle Neck Road. The office number is 883-1430. Come or call anytime!


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