Participants of the World Meeting of Families took a break from the family-themed conferences on Wednesday, Sept. 23 to help families in need half a world away.

The Helping Hands activity at the Pennsylvania Convention Center aims to pack 200,000 meals over seven shifts during the World Meeting, through Sept. 25, through the efforts of 3,500 volunteers. Catholic Relief Services and the relief agency Stop Hunger Now are sponsoring the event.

The agencies aim to send the meals containing rice, dehydrated soy and vegetables plus a vitamin and mineral packet to 27 CRS-supported centers in Burkina Faso, Africa, by Christmas time. (Photos by Sarah Webb)

Helping Hands IMG_3481a

Hundreds of volunteers just in one shifty Wednesday morning, Sept. 23 pack meals at Helping Hands. Some 3,500 volunteers aim to pack 200,000 meals by week’s end.

Helping Hands IMG_3451a

Students from John W. Hallahan Catholic High School for Girls applaud speakers revving up the volunteers before the start of the activity.

Helping Hands IMG_9671a



Helping Hands IMG_9662a

Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families, speaks to the volunteers.

Helping Hands IMG_9659a

Chris Mominey, secretary for Catholic education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, speaks to the volunteers that included many Catholic high school students in the archdiocese.

Helping Hands IMG_9639a

Thomas Awiapo, representing Catholic Relief Services, inspires the volunteers.



Helping Hands IMG_3613a

Helping Hands IMG_3603a

Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Timothy C. Senior, right, helps fill packages with food along with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, center, and high school volunteers.

Helping Hands IMG_3580a



Helping Hands IMG_3546a

Helping Hands IMG_3517a

Helping Hands IMG_3492a