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Catholic Parish Fights Childhood Hunger

St. Oliver Plunkett Catholic Church in Snellville raised money to end childhood hunger during the Great American Bake Sale at the Snellville Farmer's Market on Saturday.

hopes to do its part to end childhood hunger, and recently the parish hosted a bake sale to help bring awareness to the cause, as part of the Great American Bake Sale.

The church held sales on June 18, during the Snellville Farmers; Market. This is the second year that the parish has participated in the nationwide bake sale.

The Great American Bake Sale is a childhood hunger initiative sponsored by the Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit that sponsors a variety of culinary or food-inspired events year round to raise money for projects fighting to eliminate childhood hunger. The organization’s goal is to end childhood hunger by 2015.

Currently, more than 18 percent of America’s population is children under 18 that live in poverty. The United States Department of Agriculture's school lunch and breakfast programs provide free or reduced-priced meals to nearly 32 million school children each day during the school year. Of the 44 million people who are benefited by food stamp programs, half are children, according to the USDA.

Last year, St. Oliver held its bake sale at the church. This year they moved to the farmers' market to bring greater awareness to the cause.

“We wanted to let the city of Snellville know what our parish does,” said Geraldine Suddich, parish council member and head of the bake sale.

She was inspired to start the bake sale last year after hearing stories of the effects of hunger on young people.

“Last winter during the school closings for the snows, kids were breaking into schools looking for food," she said. “If they didn’t have food on those snow days, what would the summers be like?”

Suddich also heard of a group who established Backpack Fridays, a project that filled backpacks full of food to be handed out to school children on Fridays so they would have something to eat over the weekend.

These stories pushed Suddich to find a way for her parish to be involved in a growing problem in the U.S.

“We help every other country, but we need to help our own,” she said.

Suddich said that St. Oliver’s parishioners did not disappoint this year. In fact, they exceeded expectations. “Everyone from our church donated baked goods.”

The booth at the farmers' market was packed with all kinds of sweet treats. All four tables and a caterer’s cart were lined with cupcakes, cookies, cakes and brownies. There were also some specialty baked and packaged goods including Amish bread, whoopee pies and homemade jelly.

Church members also donated their time to volunteer at the bake sale. Jennifer Berardinella, a parish council member, couldn’t be happier about the outcome of the event.

“I am really proud of our church,” she said. “I am a strong believer of helping out our community.”

Suddich said that all proceeds from the bake sale goes directly to day cares, after school programs and summer camps for underprivileged children vetted by Share Our Strength.

Besides the bake sale, St. Oliver participates in many outreach and faith-based community service programs.

Tucked away in the Summit Chase community for the past 35 years, St. Oliver Plunkett’s main mission, according to Suddich, is to be a friend to everyone.

That includes working with the St. Vincent DePaul Society and collecting food donations from the parishioners for the local food pantry once a month. The church's active Life Teen program encourages younger members to participate in mission work.

St. Oliver also sponsors a mission church in Argentina. Suddich said that the sister parish receives donations from St. Oliver’s to fund schools, food programs and other projects.

Suddich is one of the founders of the church and has seen the growth in membership from 300 families in 1978 to close to 2500 families currently. She attributes that to a family friendly, community atmosphere at the parish.

Suddich hopes that the bake sale exceeds its $1,600 from last year.

“We would love to see $2000,” she said.

For more information on the Great American Bake Sale and its mission to end childhood hunger visit http://www.strength.org/.

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