Article written by Sr. Mary Anne Schaenzer, SSND
On the third Saturday evening of every month, volunteers provide a meal called Family Table. This is a free, complete hot meal attended by 40-60 people from the community. Anyone can come (that includes you). Clara Lehn coordinates this effort. She makes sure that what is needed is available. Food is picked up from Famous Dave’s. Bread is picked up from Panera. The paper goods drive that we have about three times a year provides items that cannot be purchased with food stamps. Volunteers come in the afternoon and prepare the food. Another set come in and serve the meal and clean up. Yet another group walk around about the tables checking to see if people need coffee or milk. We need help. Please call Clara at 763-421-8324. This is also a good ministry for a family with children old enough to help their parents. It is not necessary to be able to help every month. Attendees often sit around and talk for a while after they eat. A community nurse usually comes in order to respond to health questions. Volunteers tend to the Bread and Paper Goods area (for which people exchange a ticket received when they first come in for a meal). About 25 volunteers are available to help at different times.
A group of volunteers go to Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis once a month to provide lunch to those who come there for meals. Help is needed – a new lead person. Contact Sr. Mary Anne Schaenzer if interested. Volunteers prepare the meal ahead of time, take it over, warm it, do their finishing touches on salads and desserts, serve the meal, eat, clean up and come back to St. Stephen’s. This involves about eight volunteers.
Another group of volunteers distribute meals in the community for the Impact Services/Meals on Wheels program. They are responsible for delivering meals about every five weeks. About 85 volunteers, coordinated by a volunteer.
On the first Wednesday of the month about 20 volunteers, which includes a large number of WHO Group members and other parishioners, go to Feed My Starving Children to pack meals.
We have five Funeral Luncheon teams. Each team has a leader. There is an overall coordinator. They prepare meals, serve and clean up. They also set the tables. This is a service to those in our parish community who are grieving the loss of a loved one. About 70 people volunteer in this area. We need a team leader.
In December, when we have our Christmas Basket program, in addition to gifts families receive food. If the family is sponsored by a St. Stephen’s family they receive food. If registered but not sponsored they still receive food. We served 131 households this past year. If we were out of food we gave a food gift card.
Yet another way that we feed people is through food gift cards which are purchased through our charitable giving funds. These are given to people who come to the office and ask for assistance with food and/or gas. Some are struggling with finances but have a place to live and some are homeless – living in their cars, in a tent, trying to stay warm riding the train, couch-hopping with friends.
We have Food Drives three times a year for ACBC Food Shelf. You may also bring food anytime. It is picked up every week by Food Shelf volunteers. Once a year our second collection is for the Food Shelf.
If you would like to volunteer in the above areas, contact Sr. Mary Anne Schaenzer at 763-421-2471.