In less than an hour, 1,000 meals were prepared for St. Vincent de Paul by the diligent hands and caring hearts of religious education students and their parents from St. Albert and Holy Angels parishes, and students from Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School. Along with preparing chicken casseroles, the 85 participants had the opportunity to learn about the impact of community service from Lisa Glandon, director of development and marketing for St. Vincent de Paul.
“We are so thankful for all of you gathered here this evening,” said Glandon addressing the crowd of volunteers in CJ’s gym. “Not just for what St. Vincent de Paul and our guests will receive from your service project this evening, but from what we know that you will receive—a sense of value, a sense of love and a sense of community.”
According to Glandon, the need for community support is great, and an average of 20,000 meals a month are served between both of the shelters that St. Vincent’s operates—Gateway Shelter for Women & Families and the Gettysburg Gateway for Men.
“We are grateful to organizations like CJ that gather together in service to help us provide assistance, shelter and hope to those who turn to us,” said Glandon.
The impact of the message resonated well with a young member of St. Albert the Great Parish, Adria Wenning. “If you think about it in terms of if I were homeless, I would feel amazed that someone would do something like this for me—to donate time and money, it’s astonishing.
“I’m proud of myself, that I did something like this. My dad and I helped out tonight, and I feel really good about that.”
The fact that students and parents would be working alongside each other was one of the reasons that Julie Penno, St. Albert religious education junior high coordinator, was drawn to this event. "It was a great opportunity for families to spend time together in a meaningful way. It will be something they won't forget—feeding 1,000!”
CJ juniors Lauren Wells and Anna Roland noticed other benefits that this service-learning event afforded junior high school students.
“The 7th and 8th graders in my group were willing and wanting to take leadership positions in the project,” said Wells. “They thought that it was nice being out of the classroom and participating in some of the things that they are learning about in religion class. Tonight was a hands-on experience.”
Roland appreciated the fact that CJ hosted an event which is different than a food drive, and that people took time out of their schedules to participate and make a difference in the lives of others. “Sometime you give a canned good, but then you don’t know how it is used. Through this service project, we are contributing directly to the homeless. I know that we are feeding people tonight.
“I also liked that this project brought people from different communities together. This is what CJ is about.”
Along with making casseroles, the “Feeding 1,000; Nourishing Lives” Lenten event included community prayer and personal witness; a simple supper; and music by Nick Cardilino, whose song, “Called to Glory,” was chosen as the theme song for the 2011 National Catholic Youth Conference.