Mayday is a call for help, May Day was a call to action for Perry Lutheran Homes on the first of the month. May 1 marked PLH’s fourth annual partnership with Meals from the Heartland with a special milestone in sight - packing its 100,000th care package for the cause.


With over 300 volunteers registered to help package meals, they easily surpassed that milestone mere hours into the day. In total, they packaged 30,024 meals for the day, bringing the four-year total to over 106,000 packages. In terms of meals, enough for 625,000 people fed in all.


Each volunteer wore a number to identify how many years they’ve helped instead of a traditional name tag. Some were first-year helpers like Brian Parker, while a good portion had helped all four years.


Parker said that he wasn’t able to attend last year’s service, so he made sure to come this year to take an hour of his time to help a good cause. Meanwhile, nearly two dozen members of the Perry Rotary Club have been a staple from the beginning, letting their continued support speak for itself.


Second-time volunteer Kay Finneseth said, “It just goes to show that Heartland supplies food for people all over the world,” thoughts echoed by four-timer Amy Rathje filling packages together.


The meals packed on Wednesday will ship out to a couple of locations in Iowa but Central America and Africa are the largest targets, all of which will get locally sourced products, explained Heartland hunger fight manager Georgie Filber, who was on-site working with volunteers.


Since starting in 2008 and based in Des Moines, Heartland has helped feed over 120 million people throughout the world via a network of events like the one in Perry. Each package contains six meals for less than $1.20 containing locally-sourced products of rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins.


Because of the success that PLH has had in the four years partnering with Heartland, PLH Director of Marketing Mollie Clark said the campus will turn its sights on a more local event next year having crossed their important milestone.


“We thought, ‘Well, that’s a good stopping point,’” Clark explained. “Because these meals go primarily outside the U.S., the next will be to shift the focus back to our local community to Perry and the surrounding communities.


“Because there are others here that are lonely, that don’t have enough food, that maybe don’t have a ride to medical appointments and things like that. We thought, ‘What a great way to introduce volunteers to elders in the community.’”


Clark further said that the organizations more localized efforts will encourage residents to follow-up with their help beyond organized events like the effort at the start of the month.