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Vandergrift-area teens fast to combat world hunger

| Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, 12:31 a.m.

Not eating for 30 hours is nothing compared to the dim prospects of dinner for a child in Ethiopia, where more children suffer from malnutrition than almost anywhere in the world.

Raising awareness of world hunger has inspired 15 Vandergrift-area teenagers to fast for the 30 Hour Famine on Friday and Saturday and to raise $5,000 to combat world hunger.

“You definitely do get hungry — but you know that you are doing it for a good cause, and that justifies it,” said Lauren Bono, 16, of Parks, one of the participants.

“It's a small amount of money we will be providing and it won't feed everyone,” Bono said, “but the awareness means a lot.”

Friday and Saturday mark her third year of participating in the event, raising dollars and awareness.

The event is among the many public works of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian nonprofit that helps children, families and their communities who are victims of poverty and injustice.

Additionally, Bono and the Vandergrift-area teens will lend a hand to local causes when they volunteer for Allegheny Valley Habitat for Humanity during their hunger strike on Saturday.

In its fourth year locally, the 30 Hour Famine is sponsored by the Vandergrift Presbyterian Church and St. Gertrude Roman Catholic Church, both in Vandergrift.

All the participating local youths will stop eating at lunchtime on Friday, according to Bev Pounds, of Allegheny Township, a teen youth leader with Vandergrift Presbyterian.

The young famine fighters will play games learning about world hunger, and then continue the theme of austerity with a sleep-over on Friday on the floor of Vandergrift Presbyterian Church.

Then, it's on to Habitat for Humanity on Saturday, followed by a mystery dinner prepared by church volunteers to break the fast at 6 p.m. Saturday.

“This helps the kids learn what it's like not to have food, to create empathy, develop team building and help us count our blessings with the abundance of food we have at our fingertips,” Pounds said.

The event spreads awareness of world hunger as the participants tap family and friends for donations. This year's goal of $5,000 bests last year's of $4,200.

The $5,000 will feed 5,000 people for one day, according to Pounds.

The fundraising goal was inspired by Jesus feeding 5,000 in the gospels of Mark and Luke, she said. Event participants also will try to raise money at spaghetti dinners at St. Gertrude on Thursday and March 7.

The famine participants will lend a hand at an Allegheny Valley Habitat for Humanity project in Arnold and at the habitat's ReStore secondhand hardware in New Kensington.

“We do that because we want to realize that there are also needs in our area,” Pounds said.

Bono looks forward to the sense of completeness that she says the fast brings.

“If feels good to know that you made it 30 hours without eating,” she said.

“It makes you notice how much that you do eat in a day.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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