Tempe Volunteers Set World Record Stuffing Food Bags for Kids

10/25/2014, By Valley of the Sun United Way

Volunteers break a record at ASU and feed hungry students on National Make a Difference Day

D.S. Woodfill, The Republic | azcentral.com 1:50 a.m. MST October 26, 2014

It was another check mark on the bucket list for Mackenzie Bosmeny, one of about 2,000 volunteers who broke a world record in Tempe on Saturday while accomplishing a good deed.

The record — to stuff more than 1,000 food bags within three minutes for children in need — was broken by 993 bags at Arizona State University band's practice field, according to officials from Guinness World Records.

"It feels great — especially representing ASU," Bosmeny said.

She beamed as she and several other volunteers walked off the field, many of them dripping with sweat.

The event was one of many in honor of Make A Difference Day, 24 hours of volunteerism established more than 20 years ago by Points of Light and USA Weekend, a weekly magazine published by the Gannett Co. and delivered in the Sunday Arizona Republic.

The food bags, which will be distributed as part of the Weekend Hunger Backpack program, were sponsored by Valley of the Sun United Way, ASU, Safeway, The Arizona Republic and KPNX-Channel 12.

"In these hunger-relief kits are seven nutritious meals for schools that United Way partners with locally," said Amy Schwabenlender, a United Way vice president.

Those include two high schools and six elementary schools, where 85 percent of students participate get free or reduced-price lunches.

"Often these children and youth go hungry over the weekends," she said.

When an official adjudicator for Guinness announced to crowd members that they had broken the record held by Sandalwood Heights Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, they erupted into deafening cheers and applause.

"It was worth it, for sure," volunteer Alicia Sutton said. "It's a good way to make it noteworthy — to bring attention to what they're (the United Way) doing."

And she has a great story to tell at her next dinner party.

"I get to say I was part of a world record. That's the selfish part," she said with a giggle.

Reid Despiegelaere, a fifth-grade teacher at Balsz Elementary School in Phoenix, said he's seen firsthand how the Weekend Hunger Backpack program has helped his low-income students. Kids, he said, are more alert and ready to learn on Monday morning.

"I see it on their faces every day, and I see it in the way they perform," he said.

Philip Robertson, an official adjudicator for Guinness, said the food must be nonperishable and the bags must contain more than 10 pieces of different kinds of food. Robertson said the organization takes the competition very seriously.

"It's fun. It's for a great charity, (but) people want to have measurement that's realistic and also consistent."

Across town at Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix, Mike Beardslee, a program manager for HandsOn Greater Phoenix, which coordinated about 20 volunteer events, oversaw work by about 60 teens. The volunteers, many of whom were from the college-preparatory Upward Bound program at ASU, used about 15 gallons of paint to dress up the park.

"It's good to give back to your community," said Abel Tover, one of the participants.

His friend, Ervin Flores, whose arms were covered in red paint, nodded in agreement. "I'd rather do this than be inside all day," he said.

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