SYCAMORE – This holiday season, with the help of the community, Tim Suter is hoping to make a difference in the world.
Suter is the president of Make a Difference DKC and the president and CEO of The Suter Company in Sycamore.
Make a Difference DKC will hold its 12th annual meal packing event Nov. 12-14 at The Suter Company, 1015 Bethany Road in Sycamore.
More than 42,000 volunteers have packed over 11 million meals since Make a Difference DKC was started 12 years ago. More than $2.5 million has also been raised.
The goal for this year’s three-day packing event is to provide at least 1.7 million meals. Each meal costs only a quarter, so no donation is too small. This year, more than $400,000 will be raised for the event.
For more information about Make a Difference DKC, to register to volunteer or to donate, visit www.makeadifferencedkc.org.
Suter spoke with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton about this year’s packing event and how Make a Difference DKC helps alleviate world hunger.
Milton: What is Make a Difference DKC?
Suter: We exist to support a mobile packing event, which we’ve hosted for 12 years now. Our purpose is to alleviate world hunger.
Milton: Was the packing event held last year during the pandemic?
Suter: Last year, we had to make some changes because we were not able to host the event in Sycamore. Instead, we had volunteers go to Feed My Starving Children’s permanent sites in Aurora, Schaumburg and Libertyville. We had about 500 volunteers go there, and we did a fundraising campaign as well.
Milton: What is the food that is packed?
Suter: Feed My Starving Children uses what they call “manna packs,” a combination of ingredients approved by nutritionists to feed kids that are severely malnourished. The pack includes vegetables and soy for protein, rice and a special vitamin mix. The packs are specifically tailored for those who are near starvation. If they ate what you or I eat, it would make them more ill. The meals are sent to 70 countries all over the world to the most impoverished nations. They are sent to schools, orphanages, hospitals, medical clinics and churches, sometimes in the most dangerous and remote locations you can imagine. These meals help feed the hungry, who otherwise would have nothing to eat. More than 6,200 children die every day from starvation and starvation-related causes.
Milton: How does the packing event do more than just provide meals?
Suter: The meal packing event brings the community together through volunteering and fundraising. Part of what we’re doing is teaching kids how to serve others and help fill a need. It builds an awareness of what life is like in other countries. It also shows that we care deeply about children worldwide who don’t have enough to eat who would die of starvation without these meals.
Milton: How is the event connected to Feed My Starving Children?
Suter: The event is held to support Feed My Starving Children, which is an exceptional organization. They help us put our resources to very good use. No meal goes to waste with the organization, so what we do is helping a great cause. FMSC’s total impact is much larger than our event. They will provide more than 370 million meals this year.
Milton: When are this year’s meal packing events?
Suter: The meal packing events are Friday, Nov. 12, Saturday, Nov. 13, and Sunday, Nov. 14. There are a variety of two-hour shifts throughout the day. We will have specific COVID protocols. Anyone with symptoms will be turned away, masks are required, and volunteers must register in groups of eight to 10 people they know and are comfortable with. The groups then travel throughout the event together, socially distanced. Each small group is isolated from other groups, so you pack with people you know, people who are inside your circle of family and friends.
Milton: Is the meal packing event held every year in November?
Suter: We hold the meal packing event the same time every year, two weeks before Thanksgiving weekend. It’s become a local tradition now.
Milton: What would you say to someone who is interested in volunteering?
Suter: I don’t think there’s anything else you can do that by giving two hours of your time, you’re saving a child’s life. The meals are sent to the most impoverished areas of the world you can imagine. I’ve traveled with Feed My Starving Children, and it’s difficult to see their living conditions. The meal packing event itself is very inspiring and uplifting. Our very generous community comes together to help. It’s a great way for kids to learn how to serve, take care of others and make a difference in the world.