My family was in town for Thanksgiving so we decided to load up two cars and head over to the soup kitchen on Friday. My dad reluctantly came along. He questioned the idea of helping people who, in his words, “were too lazy to work.” Let me tell you that by the time we drove home, he was singing a completely different tune.
Let’s start from the beginning. About a year ago, I was tired of my children begging for the latest toy on T.V. and complaining about the food we ate so it was time for a reality check…for all of us. I admit that I get totally caught up in material things too. A lot of us don’t realize how people are struggling to find food for their next meal and they are literally right around the corner from us. So I Googled ‘soup kitchen’ and The Wayside Center popped up. We have been serving there every fourth Friday of each month since we started in August of 2013. We make the meal at home as well as a side dish and dessert, then we bring it to the center to serve. It brings a smile to everyone’s face when they see Sydney and Olivia passing out the meal. Sometimes Sydney even brings in a little puppet show and the chuckles and grins it elicits is priceless. She brought it on Friday and had all of us laughing-so cute!
I was a little hesitant when we first arrived there a year ago. Of course, I want to keep my children safe and we were surrounded by complete strangers, most of them men, and I wondered at first what we were getting ourselves into. These people have since become like family to us in many ways. When I walk in now, a lot of them greet us by name and they always offer to help unload the food from my car. The girls take turns ringing the dinner bell, a prayer is said and then they line up, women and children first (yes, there are children sometimes) and then the men to receive their meal. Let me also state for the record that each meal is earned by doing some kind of chore around the center. If the job is not done, then they don’t receive their meal.
Instead of the initial pity that I felt for them, I feel now like we are equals. They appreciate the food that we bring in and I appreciate the opportunity to teach my children respect for all people and appreciation for the little things in life.
So on Friday, my mom, dad, brother, and his husband rolled up their sleeves and jumped right in. My dad still held back a bit, but by the end he was chatting with some of the guys that work behind the desk and even thanked me later for the idea of bringing all of us there.
With Christmas in less than four weeks, try not to let the shopping and the activities take center stage. In fact, try to remember that it’s not just the holidays when we should offer kindness to strangers. Try to do good for those all year round because the saying is true, “The things that we take for granted someone else is praying for.”