Do the Math: Volunteering Adds Up!

It's seems like so long ago that Volunteer Odyssey introduced us to St. Mary's Soup Kitchen. The first time I walked into the soup kitchen, I remember thinking that it would likely be the ONLY time I ever volunteered there. Was I ever wrong! It's a funny little story, actually.

Since then, St. Mary's has become like home- the people like family. This week marks 34 consecutive weeks that Janie Kathryn and I have volunteered for our Tuesday shift. That's 34 Tuesdays of waking up before the sun, through the hottest weeks of summer and into the coldest of winter. I mention this not to pat myself on the back, but because it's a testament to how much it means to my child and to me to have the opportunity to be there every week. It's an activity that homeschooling affords us and one that engages my child's brain as well as her heart.

There was absolutely no way that we could participate in a month of service projects with other homeschoolers and NOT serve at St. Mary's Soup Kitchen. It would be like asking your friends to come over and not inviting them inside! I knew it might be a stretch to expect a group of youth volunteers to make it downtown by 7:15am, so I inquired about how we might help after-hours. The project: making peanut butter sandwiches and touring the soup kitchen. The sign-up slots filled up almost instantly. How exciting that so many people wanted to come to the soup kitchen- our soup kitchen!

We assembled, 9 kids and 5 moms, and made short work of a sandwich-making session. Everyone brought loaves of bread (30 in all) and together we prepared 360 sandwiches. And yes, we did the math together. It varies by ability, but you might be surprised how much math you can work into making sandwiches. You can actually practice a lot of skills while volunteering at the soup kitchen, but math was not the learning objective of our Month of Service Learning. This group was focused on addressing hunger and homelessness in our community.

During their time at St. Mary's the Service Learners contemplated the challenges of making healthy food choices when eating to ease the pain of hunger. We also considered the fact that people who are experiencing hunger (or food insecurity) are not necessarily homeless. One of my 8 year old friends was quite perplexed by the idea that a parent can work hard at multiple jobs, have a home and a car, and still not have enough money to keep food on the table for the entire family.

We walked through the steps of a volunteer shift at the soup kitchen. The tower of soup was most impressive, while the early morning hours were less appealing. So, of course we talked about other ways to be involved!

Sign up through Volunteer Spot on the soup kitchen's web page. Be sure to take note of the address, so you show up at the right place- a little reference to my first time serving!

You can make donations of food or supplies. Just contact St. Mary's to work out the details. You can also contact me, whether it's leftovers from your party or extra food after a business meeting, I'm happy to help you get your gift to people who need it. You can also make a monetary donation online Every dollar counts

Be Informed
You can sign up to receive newsletters and stay up-to-date on events and opportunities for getting involved at the soup kitchen. You can also follow St. Mary's on facebook.

Now, how about a little soup kitchen math?

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