If you have been reading these pages for any period of time you will know that my parish St. Michael Orthodox Church in Southbridge Massachusetts provides a free meal twice a month to people in the community. We do not run a soup kitchen but we offer a community meal and there is a difference.
What we are trying to do is build community and that is not an easy task. Our meals bring together people from all along the economic spectrum for a free meal, conversation, and friendship. As a parish community this is our way of living the Gospel message of loving our neighbor. We have made some great friends during the last 4 years and, although it is a lot of work, I don’ think any of us would miss the opportunity to serve this meal.
Last night we served our annual Thanksgiving Meal complete with turkeys, 9 of them, stuffing, mashed potato, veg, pies, etc. We had help serving the almost 130 people who came, by the youth of St. Ann/St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Sturbridge Massachusetts and we could not have done it without them!
So what of canned goods?
Well, each week I make a trip to the Worcester County Food Bank to get the food that we will be using for these meals. Part of what I pick up is a variety of canned goods that we put on a table for those who come to take. It is not much, but maybe it will supplement a meal or two and make life a little easier for some.
There used to be a sign that hung above the table that said, “if you need something, take it if you have extra, leave it.” This harkens to the Gospel message of helping out our brothers and sisters. St. Basil the Great believed that if everyone took only what they needed there would be no poverty in the world, a nice thought and perhaps a bit utopian, but it is something we should strive for non the less. That single can will feed a person, or a family, and keep them from going hungry. That simple can, that some make take for granted, will keep someone alive.
Next time you are out shopping for food, but a couple of extra cans of something and donate it to the local food pantry. You just might save a life!