The Youth Group from the First Presbyterian Church of Branchville, led by Pastor Jeff Hatch, spent two days volunteering at St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen last month. Franciscan Charities was the first stop for the 14 students who were participating in a nearly week-long Work Camp.
Pastor Jeff had been at the soup kitchen exactly 10 years ago with his Youth Group — back then, the group painted the walls of the soup kitchen space. After the work was done, a priest from St. Ann’s parish met with the students and talked to them about poverty, growing up in Newark, the soup kitchen, etc. Pastor Jeff and one of the former students in the program remember it as a very moving talk. It was that student (Jake Pullis) who reached out to Pastor Jeff recently to ask the name of the church they had been to 10 years previously. He wanted his Rutgers fraternity to volunteer at the soup kitchen. This reminded Pastor Jeff about Franciscan Charities, so he reached out to see if we could accommodate the group for two days. The answer was a resounding yes!
On day one of their visit, the group emptied our storage room—thousands of cans of supplies and various stuff that had been accumulated over time. They removed all the shelving, prepared and painted the floor and walls, brought the shelving to the parking lot, scrubbed it and hosed it down, and then returned the shelving to the dining room where all the contents of the storage room were being held.
We built a wall of shelving around the supplies and food and waited a few days for the paint to dry and set. The space had been so disorganized and in real need of an overhaul. Now, due to the hard work of the group, the storage room is nicely organized and very clean. The students also cleaned out our utensil racks and scrubbed/painted a work table.
On day two of their visit, the Youth Group read to the kids in the literacy program and prepped and served the lunch at the soup kitchen. Their visit was wrapped up with a talk about poverty and volunteerism at the soup kitchen by Melissa Lucanie, Board President of Franciscan Charities.
THANK YOU to Pastor Jeff Hatch and the Youth Group from First Presbyterian Church of Branchville. Your hard work and enthusiasm made a huge difference at the soup kitchen and we truly appreciate your help!