St. Charles of Brazil in Arbutus

Members of the St. Charles of Brazil parish in Arbutus are hosting an evening of live music at the Fish Head Cantina on Benson Avenue October 22 to raise money for their Stop Hunger Now event in November. From left, members of the church include Ruth Ann Wickless, Joe Wickless, Charlie Ernst, Fr. Peter Smith, Biggs Harrison and Debbie Warren. (Photo by Phil Grout / October 16, 2011)

Forty volunteers brought together by members of St. Charles of Brazil independent Catholic church will gather on Nov. 12 with the goal of packaging 10,000 meals in two hours.

That is, if the 30-person independent Catholic church, established in 2009, can raise the $2,500 necessary to do so to obtain the food items for the event.

With $1,500 already in the bank as of Oct. 13, Joe Wickless, the event's project leader, aims to collect the rest, and hopefully more, at a charity event Saturday, Oct. 22, 4-8 p.m., at Fish Head Cantina.

With a $5 donation, people can listen to live music, some of which will be played by Wickless, and bid on silent auction items at the bar and restaurant at 4802 Benson Ave.


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"What we're trying to encourage is people to just walk up," said Wickless, a life-long resident of the 21227 ZIP code. "We're trying to make this a really big event on the 22nd.

"If we can raise a couple of thousand (dollars) that night, that's just more meals."

For every quarter raised after hitting $2,500, an extra meal is packaged and delivered to needy people worldwide.

Wickless has his sights set on just making $2,500 for now but would love to have to package even more meals on the morning of Nov. 12.

"We will definitely do 10,000," Wickless said. "We would hope to do more. I would say our stretch goal might be 15,000 meals."

Wickless speculated that raising more money might necessitate employing more volunteers at the packaging event.

But the group has plenty of volunteers in reserve after using a Facebook campaign to get the word out, Wickless said.

"We thought it might be a challenge getting the 40 volunteers," Wickless said. "I think every person innately feels the need to help people, especially children, who are really really suffering."

For this event, the church teamed with Stop Hunger Now, a national organization with 11 chapters across the United States.

If the church meets its $2,500 goal, the Philadelphia chapter of Stop Hunger Now will transport the food and packaging materials to the Arbutus Recreation Center, next door to the Arbutus Library, where the meals will be packaged in an assembly line.

According to its website, Stop Hunger Now primarily ships the packaged meals internationally, where 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related illnesses.

A majority of the meals, according to the website, are used to support school feeding programs.

"There's no denying the need," Wickless said. "It really is going to people who are on the edge of survival."

The 13-year-old nonprofit has packaged more than 51 million meals and distributed them to 76 countries, according to its website.

Even though Wickless doesn't know how much money the church's efforts will bring in, he's already looking to the future.

"I would like to do it next year and I would like to expand it," said Wickless, who noted his church, which holds its weekly services at 141 Lavern Ave., has yet to commit to making it an annual event.