Compassion International’s Fill the Stadium Has an Urgent Mission: To Help 70,000 Vulnerable Children Avert Starvation
Without Large-Scale Aid This Year, Food Crises Will Surge
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The fifth annual Global Report on Food Crises, released May 5, asserted that at least 155 million people worldwide faced acute hunger last year. That includes 133,000 people who urgently needed food in order to avert starvation. Compassion International’s Fill the Stadium (FtS)—an initiative that provides essential food, medical care and support to children in the developing world during the COVID-19 pandemic—is addressing the desperate need that exists.
Fill the Stadium is on an urgent mission to restore what the coronavirus has destroyed. To date, over $26 million has been raised in Compassion International’s Fill the Stadium initiative, aiding approximately 51,000 children and their families who are living in extreme poverty because of COVID-19. In addition, over 40 professional athletes and national leaders have joined the Fill the Stadium lead team to help save children in crisis in the developing world.
“All around the world, there are kids in crisis,” said Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, the president and CEO of Compassion International. “These children aren’t dying of COVID-19. They’re dying of starvation.”
The U.N. report focused on 55 countries that account for 97 percent of humanitarian assistance. In those nations, millions of people faced “crisis,” “emergency,” or “catastrophe/famine” levels of food need last year—an increase of some 20 million people from 2019. Two-thirds of the people, the report said, live in 10 countries: Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, northern Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Haiti.
In addition, 75.2 million children under the age of five in those 55 countries were “stunted” in their growth—while 15.8 million were found to be underweight for their height.
Among the reasons for the dire straits, as noted in the U.N. report: protracted conflicts, economic fallout from COVID-19, and weather extremes on top of already existing “fragilities.”
“With every decision we make right now, we are writing the story of COVID-19 that one day will be told,” said Mellado. “It would be easy to retreat from fear, easy to close our eyes to all of the children in poverty around the world. But retreating from fear doesn’t save any lives or solve any challenges. Let’s not lose the opportunity to do something extraordinary in this life.”
Added Mellado, “Children are the most vulnerable—and Compassion International is responding.”
In leadership roles for Fill the Stadium efforts are such standout athletes as Nick Foles, professional football MVP quarterback; Adam Engel of the Chicago White Sox; Sam Burns, PGA TOUR golfer; Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Alyssa Naeher of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team; Jordy Nelson, former professional wide receiver; Carson Palmer, former professional quarterback; Devin and Jason McCourty, defensive backs of New England; Nate Solder of the New York Giants; Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes; Brock Huard, FOX sports broadcaster and former professional quarterback; and many others.
So far, the FtS initiative has “filled” approximately 51,000 seats—continuing the group’s commitment and leadership—in the path toward helping 70,000 children. In this era of coronavirus, “We are all experiencing the reality of empty stadiums,” says the Fill the Stadium team. “The average NFL stadium holds 70,000 seats. We need to reach that many kids. That’s why this effort so desperately needs a caring, prayerful and thoughtful community to join together in this needed relief.”
Founded in 1952, Compassion International is a Christian child development organization that works to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Compassion revolutionized the fight against global poverty by working exclusively with the Church to lift children out of spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. Compassion partners with more than 8,000 churches in 25 countries to deliver its holistic child development program to over 2 million babies, children and young adults. Its child sponsorship program has been validated through independent, empirical research.