By Andrea Kamouyerou, Director of Engagement
While the Christmas season is officially over now, I wanted to share in a bit more detail about the Christmas Day meal that was served this year, in partnership with St. John Carnegie. Preparing and delivering a meal to almost 200 people is no small feat! It required many, many hands: shopping for huge quantities of food, cooking and carving turkeys, making mashed potatoes and gravy, buying desserts and dropping them off at the church, packaging hundreds of take-out containers in such a way as to keep the food somewhat presentable upon delivery, navigating the roads on the snowiest Christmas we’ve seen in a long time, and finally, handing a Christmas meal to a neighbor in need. So many hands involved, and so many hearts expanded and touched. Below are some numbers to give an idea of the breadth of the outreach, but also some stories from our volunteers, to give an idea of the breadth of impact as well.
And here are some reflections from our volunteers:
“It brought me much joy to take the dinner reservations. Some who called said it was the only way they could provide a meal for their family; many were alone and others could not be with their family or friends. All were so grateful.” (Ann Bart, who was in charge of all telephone orders)
“It was a pleasure contributing on the holiday that celebrates the less fortunate in the season of giving and being with people who care. The contributions of our volunteers was certainly heart warming. Mike devoted a better part of three days with me in the kitchen. The people assembling the meals inside were awesome. The drivers were also committed and on time in the face of lousy weather and road conditions. My one delivery in Dravosburg was really thankful to get dinners for a group of elderly. I hope that everyone enjoyed our offering.” (John Sozansky, head chef)
“This Christmas was different, more quiet & small, just our family & a lot of ‘togetherness’ at home. As we delivered the food together, we realized that in contrast to us, there are people who had no one at all to be with. Everyone was so grateful, some told us it made their day to see us, and one person said she had been very lonely until we got there so she would have someone to talk to. Another person even gave us presents. They seemed to welcome not only the dinner, but the chance to welcome visitors, no matter how brief the visit was. It made us feel good.” (Brownfield family, deliverer)
“We really enjoyed delivering the 35 meals to the Bridgeville area. Most went to group homes although a few to private homes. All recipients were very appreciative and in some cases were “waiting at the door” for us. Sue and I thought that St Paul’s should continue this ministry from time to time. It’s really meaningful to the people we met.” (Ell Vines, deliverer)
"One of the places we delivered food was in public housing about 40 minutes away. I couldn't help but notice the differences in our communities. It was a food desert, the sidewalks weren't cleared, the roads hadn't been salted or plowed like they had in Lebo, I noticed the bus stop and tried to imagine getting a family around town via public transportation, I thought about people with mobility issues, I noticed the crowding and thought about how difficult it would be to physically distance. As we showed up to our last stop, my daughter declared she wanted to come in with me. She cheerfully donned her mask and we cheerfully delivered the meal. I don't think she noticed anything I did and I was grateful she was with me. It helped me focus on the people we delivered the meal to, not their surroundings, just as God calls us to do. I won't stop noticing inequity and it is my job to teach her about this. But on Christmas, it was enough just to do the simple task of leaving our warm and safe home and cheerfully and single-mindedly delivering warmth and deliciousness and love to someone on Christmas. Each person was so grateful and happy to see us and I wished we could have stayed and enjoyed one another longer. Thank you St. Paul's staff for the opportunity and organizing and thank you for cooking Mike Rago and John Sozansky!" (Alexis Sheehan, deliverer)
Thank you to all who brought some of the joy of Christmas - the joy of Christ within each of us - to so many in our community!