With school in recess, summer has seen a jump in the number of children coming to Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen. Families sometimes take up half the dining area, and volunteers love to interact with smiling and giggling kids.
At the same time we are seeing more young folk wanting to volunteer at the soup kitchen.
Last Wednesday, for example, when we served 90 guests, three children were busily helping to serve drinks and preparing trays.
Alyssa Sharp, 12, who was all smiles at the beverage station, wouldn’t let a guest get by her without asking what he or she wanted to drink.
Her mom, Tammy Sharp, was in the kitchen helping to prep items for the trays. Tammy is on recess, too, since she is a second grade teacher in the Utica School District.
It was Karina Zabko’s third day volunteering. The 11-year-old, who was helping to set up trays, is the niece of kitchen volunteer-supervisor Joanne Lockwood.
“She wants to keep coming,” notes Joanne.
The youngest volunteer was MacKenzie DeRyder, 9, who had been there every day for two weeks.
The daughter of a friend of the family, MacKenzie accompanies Joanne to West Side Kitchen, where “she makes salads and helps with preparing trays,” and when she returns home, she “evangelizes” her mother and grandparents about volunteering.
“She prefers to come here instead of going to day care,” Joanne laughs.
Donna and Bob Oderkirk, the volunteer “chefs” who supervise the nighttime food preparation, are putting out a plea for more volunteers to help out on Wednesday evenings.
“Tonight in the kitchen we made 549 sandwiches and 19 gallons of soup,” Donna reports. “Bob sliced all the meat. We prepped the celery and carrots…We really need some new volunteers as the same 10 people show up every week. I am afraid we are going to get burned out.”
In addition to the Oderkirks, those evening volunteers are: Tom and Josie Abounader, Ann Longo, Gordon and Kathy Morrock, Ann Furner, Tony Weber, and Rosemary Tamer.