Cabarrus

Mount Pleasant man leads local hunger effort

Brian Almond is a man with a big heart and an even bigger vision.

The 31-year-old father of three said he's always had a strong desire to help other people, even as a young boy.

In middle school, Almond went with a building team to Puerto Rico, where he saw poverty for the first time. That trip, combined with Almond's altruism, cemented his determination to help people in need.

For a long time, Almond searched for the right project. Then he heard about Stop Hunger Now ( www.stophunger.now.org), an international hunger relief organization that feeds people in dire need around the world.

Initially, Almond said, he thought he should be helping people close to home. But after a conversation with his mother about "the least of these," he realized that through this organization, he could help people where the need is greatest.

He explained how Stop Hunger Now works: Pre-packaged, highly nutritious meals are provided to children at schools in areas where hunger and poverty are common. Parents send their children to school to be fed, but their minds are also nourished. As a result, the population is better educated, and poverty levels begin to improve.

What's most impressive is that it costs just 25 cents to provide one of these meals to a child.

Last year Brian Almond and his supporters provided 30,000 meals. This year he hopes to do even more.

Almond said his goal is to let the world know what a small group of people in Cabarrus County can do. He basically asks people to contribute whatever they can, or raise money any way they can.

Last year he put buckets in local churches and businesses to collect loose change. Those buckets netted more than $2,000 (or 8,000 meals).

He told me about a youth leader who passed out $5 bills to kids along with a challenge to use their talents to make that money grow. They earned about $400.

Almond firmly believes people want to help; they just need to know how and where to best invest their money.

He's writing a blog called Cabarrus Fighting Hunger ( www.cabarrusfightinghunger.blogspot.com), which he hopes will become a place for people to learn about good ways to invest their money to help end hunger. As he said, anybody's that's breathing can help.

This year, Almond hopes to raise even more money than last year and to involve even more people. One of the neat things about Stop Hunger Now is that donors can be involved in packaging the meals to be sent overseas. Last year 144 people helped do that, and this year's packaging event should be even bigger.

In fact, Almond is planning that this movement will grow every year.

To join in, check out his blog and see what you can do to help.

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