Church soup kitchen feeds the hungry

December 02, 2004|KATIE McBRIDE

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church puts its faith into action through its Soup's on Us program.

One Saturday morning per month, parishioners and other volunteers gather early to prepare box lunches for the needy in the community. Soup's on Us started three years ago as a youth project with 30 meals served in the church's basement, but since then the program has grown, and now they deliver around 140 meals.

Each box is filled with a cup of chili, a cup of potato soup, a ham sandwich, a turkey sandwich, crackers, fruit and cookies.

The program relies solely on the generosity of parishioners and others in the community because it does not receive state funding. In addition to monetary donations, many will give desserts and fruit for the meals.


"A couple ladies always bake cookies," said Sandy McElfresh, a parishioner and regular volunteer with the program.

Jenny Anderson, a junior at Centre College, was one of several volunteers with the college who helped with Soup's on Us during Poverty and Homelessness Week.

"I really enjoy being able to actually provide people with something they can use and need," said Anderson.

No eligibility requirements

There are no eligibility requirements for the program; anyone who needs an extra meal is welcome to have one. Volunteers always bring a couple extra meals with them in case of visitors or meeting someone else who needs the lunch.

The meals are prepared and delivered at the end of the month so the recipient can have enough food until their paycheck or social security check arrives.

"It makes me feel good to know I'm helping someone who's really worthy," said McElfresh.

After the food is prepared and boxed, the volunteers deliver them, allowing interaction with the people they're helping.

Alex Riffee, a freshman at Centre who also helped with the program, delivered some lunches to Arnold Towers and described how "a huge smile broke across their faces when they saw we had the lunch for them."

He also had an opportunity to talk with some of the residents.

"Just to have a conversation with someone who may not get to see their family much was very fulfilling."

"They're very appreciative. Any time I've delivered they've been overjoyed to see me," said McElfresh.

The recipients aren't the only ones who are grateful.

A rewarding experience

Riffee said that his experience with the program "made me feel really good, especially around the holiday season."

The volunteers also enjoy the time they spend together while they work.

"I found the bond between the church members to be very unique. They really seemed to care about this program and were excited to see other people participating," said Anderson.

Riffee hopes that when he tells his friends how much he enjoyed this opportunity, they'll want to get involved as well.

"People want to make a difference and get up early on a Saturday morning to do that," said Riffee.

The next Saturday for Soup's on Us is Dec. 18. Cooking starts at 7 a.m. and delivery is finished by 1 p.m. For more information or future dates, call the parish office at (859) 236-2111.

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