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Mich. congregants pack two million meals for needy

 Judy Deckert, Luisa Solak, and Jan Bartee, members of NorthRidge Church, packed whole grain rice for meals in Novi, Mich.

Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via ap;

 Judy Deckert, Luisa Solak, and Jan Bartee, members of NorthRidge Church, packed whole grain rice for meals in Novi, Mich.

NOVI, Mich. — They came from all walks of life — Girl Scout troops, National Guard units, financial planning offices, Zumba classes — to spend three days packing food for thousands of hungry children they will never meet.

Mike Householder/Associated Press

Jenna Stewart, 10, of Garden City, Mich., took pleasure in her work. The meals will be shipped to El Salvador, Haiti, and the Philippines.

The 2 Million Meals effort, the idea of a Detroit-area pastor, concluded Sunday.

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The results: 8,810 volunteers put together 2,029,536 meals to be shipped to El Salvador, Haiti, and the Philippines. The mixtures of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and 21 vitamins and minerals will provide one meal a day for a year to 5,560 children.

‘‘The truth is, this has been an amazing experience because of the impact it’s going to cause in the lives of every child and every person who’s going to eat these meals,’’ Brad Powell, who heads up NorthRidge Church, said shortly after the 2 millionth meal was packed Sunday afternoon.

‘‘But I think you can see from the energy in this room and all that’s going on, it’s going to change more than just the lives of those who will eat this food,’’ he said.

Powell led an effort three years ago in which 5,000 volunteers packed 1 million meals over the same time period at an area middle school. Convinced that more could and should be done, Powell dreamed of doubling that effort.

That vision became a reality on Sunday, when the completed number was displayed on an oversized video display. Volunteers worked 11 sets of two-hour shifts from Friday to Sunday in the Suburban Collection Showplace, a convention center in Novi, which donated 65,000 square feet of space.

Also on board was Feed My Starving Children, a Coon Rapids, Minn., nonprofit that sends volunteer-packed meals across the globe.

NorthRidge members paid for the meals themselves, raising $440,000 mostly through Christmas offerings at the church, which is one of the largest in the United States. The nondenominational Christian church, which has its main campus in Plymouth Township as well as two satellite locations elsewhere in Michigan, draws an average of 9,600 worshipers each weekend.

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