Church Leaders Help Transform A Day of Tragedy

As the Parkland community continues to heal from last year’s Valentine’s Day tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, one church had a unique idea – bring the community together to feed kids around the world.

Coastal Community Church has been involved with the community’s quest for healing since the tragedy took place. As the one-year anniversary crept closer, church leaders worked with the school board and city to come up with an idea to make it a day of love and service.

They wanted to answer the looming question, “What can students do to turn this tragedy into something positive?” lead Pastor T.J. McCormick said.

A member of his church who is connected with the mission organization Children’s Cup knew exactly where to turn – the ministry’s food partner, Christian nonprofit Feed My Starving Children (FMSC).

The Minnesota-based nonprofit organizes volunteers to hand pack nutritious meals, which are then sent to a network of food distribution partners in 70 countries.

The organization’s mission of feeding children hungry in body and spirit was the perfect opportunity to bring together a community searching for healing.  

More than 1.2 million volunteers packed 333 million meals at FMSC’s eight permanent packing sites and through its nationwide MobilePack program last year alone.

FMSC volunteers

Coastal Community Church is working with the school board, the Parkland City Council and other local churches to join the ranks of those who have “turned hunger into hope with their own two hands.”

The initial goal was to pack 100,000 meals, but it quickly scaled up once visionary leaders from each of the groups started dreaming and planning.

Now, 1,200 local volunteers are needed to pack more than 700,000 meals on the anniversary of the local tragedy that shook a nation.

“What you think is possible and what God thinks is possible is totally different,” McCormick said.


“We’re in this together”

McCormick often tells his congregation, “You’re not in this alone. Look to your left, look to your right; we’re in this together.”

And that is his message on the anniversary of this tragedy. “We’re still in this together, and the sum total of us together can harness this and do great things,” he said.

He quoted Ephesians 5:15-16: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

And this moment? Well, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime, McCormick said.  

“You can either step back in those moments or step up in those moments, and we are so grateful that FMSC said we are going to step up into this moment as well,” he said. “That’s when God steps in and does something great.”


Beauty in the midst of pain

McCormick sees the event as an opportunity for the “big C church” – the Christian community of Parkland – to show up and love the community in a hands-on way.

And that fits perfectly with FMSC, an organization that sees itself as part of the “big C church,” with a mission statement that includes feeding spirits.

“Our organization is very familiar with the pain and darkness present in this world,” FMSC’s VP of Development and Marketing, Andy Carr, said. “More than 6,200 children a day die of hunger-related causes, and the need continues to grow.”

Both Carr and McCormick agree that this is an opportunity for hope and healing.  

“This is an opportunity to be a bright light in a dark moment,” McCormick said. “And that’s the beauty of all of this – that we can come together, side by side with people who are dealing with grief and hurt. And that even in the middle of all that you can still impact lives.”


Get involved

The Parkland MobilePack event is Feb. 13-15 at the Parkland Recreational and Enrichment Center. You can sign up to volunteer at

Learn more about Feed My Starving Children at

For more information on MSD Commemoration Activities visit MSD Day of Service and Love.

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