Every fall, volunteers from several Marion County churches meet at the Mennonite Central Committee distribution center in North Newton to can meat. Their efforts provide valuable protein to others in need, across the seas and closer to home.
Volunteers from Eden Mennonite Church near Burns joined workers from adjoining counties Nov. 1 and 2 to cut, weigh, can, and label several batches of turkey. The MCC mobile canning unit makes 33 stops at Mennonite churches throughout the United States and Canada each year.
“We don’t know where it is going to go, but we feel it is some way we can help humanity,” volunteer Galen Becker said. “The youth were here working the evening shift on Thursday, and the adults from the church came in on Friday morning to finish up.”
Becker said about 20 youth and sponsors from his church met at the North Newton center for the work, while 10 adults contributed their time on Friday morning. It takes a crew of 10 to 12 people to run the pressurized canning machines, plus others to prepare the meat. Women from the organization worked to wash the finished cans and apply labels.
“We cleaned up 840 cans, and that was just one batch,” Mrs. Galen Becker said. “There are 140 cans in each canner.”
An official canning crew of three young men supervises the meat processing work. This year, Jason Unruh of Peabody is part of the four-member crew, serving the second year of his three-year-voluntary service term.
“It’s good to be in my home area again,” Unruh said. “It always amazes me how helpful and friendly people are wherever we go. That’s what makes it fun, meeting the people who show up, even with the early hours, to volunteer their time to help the hungry.”
The canning unit processes an average of 9,000 pounds of chunked turkey thighs per day. Becker said he enjoyed getting together with friends for the common purpose of serving others.