Awareness with hunger

A group of teens at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Laguna Beach got a taste of starvation on Feb. 25.

In collaboration with World Vision, a Christian nonprofit dedicated to eradicating poverty, local teens spent 30 hours without food to understand what it's like for millions of people living in hunger all over the world.

The 30-hour fast was intended to be a teaching tool and a time for discussion, as well as an opportunity to raise money for the organization.

A donation of $30 can feed a child for one month, World Vision said.

Starting at noon Feb. 25 and ending at 6 p.m. Saturday, the 15 or so students prayed, took naps and played games to pass the time.

Sara Stewart, a student at Aliso Niguel High School, thought the fast was an important gesture to understand the plight of other people.

"I participated in the famine because I knew that it was for a good cause, and that even though I will not be eating for 30 hours, there are children who do not eat for much longer," she wrote in an e-mail. "And I wanted to experience that feeling."

Stewart is a member of Laguna Beach United Methodist Church and heard about the event at St. Mary's and wanted to take part.

Melody Wilson, a coordinator from World Vision, felt the mock famine went well and that the students really empathized with the issue.

"It was incredible to see the teenagers at this church; they had such a concern with what was going on around the world," Wilson said. "The conversation was happening, 'Why are we raising money to combat hunger?' We talked about why hunger is the root cause of a lot of issues."

Stewart pointed out that hunger isn't a foreign issue to people in our country, state or even our county.

"It is important because hunger isn't just in Third World countries, it is also happening in America," the 17-year-old said. "There are actually 26,000 children who go to sleep hungry each night in Orange County."

On Saturday afternoon, the group headed to the Main Beach boardwalk, all wearing crazy costumes, hoping to raise money for the charity. Stewart said that many on the Boardwalk didn't take them seriously, but in the end they raised $227 for World Vision.

This won't be the end of fundraising for hunger. St. Mary's Episcopal Church will host the Famine Awareness Carnival on June 12. In the past, the church has raised more than $6,000 for the cause.

For information about St. Mary's fundraising efforts, visit or call (949) 494-3542.

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