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Teens learn hunger to help those in need

The red grapes looked so good. And Amanda Stark, 14, was so hungry.

But Amanda and 64 other teens from Central Kentucky had to resist. They could not eat Saturday because they were part of 30 Hour Famine, a national fasting and service project based locally at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church.

The program, sponsored by the Christian humanitarian group World Vision, is designed to show teens what it feels like to live in hunger and extreme poverty as they raise money and help those in need.

Amanda's service project Saturday was to make lunch for people in Lexington who are considered homebound.

Working against her hunger, she was part of a group that baked chocolate chip cookies, whipped up a batch of egg salad for sandwiches, and delivered the food, along with the grapes.

To get her through, Amanda followed the project rules: She drank some juice and prayed for Biki, the hungry child assigned to her. The story of Biki, a 9-year-old boy in India being helped by 30 Hour Famine, was written on a piece of paper attached to a string worn around Amanda's neck.

Amanda's willpower was tested 20 hours into the fast.

"It was hard to make the cookies," she recalled. "The grapes looked good too. I just thought about Biki."

The fasting teens consumed only liquids as they provided food for people in Lexington.

"If you teach a child they can make a difference in the world they never feel hopeless or helpless," said the Rev. Lauren Hendrick, minister of Christian Formation at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. "Today we already saved 90 lives."

It takes $365 to feed one child for a year, said Hendrick, who brought the program to Lexington when she moved from New York more than two years ago.

Since December, the teens have raised more than $6,000 through various collections, and with a federal grant the total is more than $30,000.

"Their parents aren't making them do it. Their youth leaders aren't making them do it. They are willing," said Hendrick's daughter Julia, who at 17 is in her sixth fast.

The teens took on different roles. Sarah Armistead, 15, a student at Lexington Catholic High School, helped make snack packs for families of patients in the UK Hospital intensive-care unit.

Rachel Elliott, a 14-year-old at Jessie Clark Middle School, was assigned to help prepare a meal for families living at the Ronald McDonald House.

"If we just collected money it wouldn't work," said Rachel. "We wouldn't be able to experience what it feels like to be hungry."

Dawson Fugate 16, who attends West Jessamine High School, found out Saturday that some families in Lexington can't afford to buy cake mixes, balloons, candles and other items to celebrate their youngsters' birthdays.

Fugate was part of a group that took birthday party supplies and diapers to the Manchester Center, a community center on Patterson Street.

"There's a lot of poverty-stricken people even in this city," he said. "It's sad how many people have to live on the streets and go from job to job."