St. James Soup Kitchen

In seventh grade, I had the privilege of discovering a small but passionately run soup kitchen when my two friends asked me to come with them to volunteer at one of the Friday dinners their church was holding. Since that day, I have regularly been volunteering at St. James Church, and have met so many inspiring individuals who want to make a change in others lives. St. James is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and although they are a church, their soup kitchen is open to any person wishing to volunteer, regardless of their religious beliefs. The church runs the soup kitchen on Tuesday mornings and Friday evenings, and provides service to around 90 homeless individuals at each meal. Although I have gone many times, a Friday evening from earlier this year stuck out for me. I arrived with my two friends who belong to the church, and we began by helping chop vegetables for the meal. Others helped to set up the tables in the main hall, placing flower vases on each one, while more people brought bread baskets out to the tables. After we had almost finished prepping the meal, we came together for a moment of grace. I am not Catholic, and may not have been thanking God for allowing me to be there, but I was still reminded of how lucky I was, and how much this meal meant for the people receiving it. We continued prepping and serving the food, and I remember another volunteer running back down to the kitchen gasping that there was an extra vegetarian plate needed, asking if we had already sent the veggie plates out, and if there be enough food left. Her worries were resolved as we had extra and made up another vegetarian plate, which I brought upstairs. When I found the woman who had claimed to be vegetarian, and placed the plate in front of her, she looked at me with such a wide smile and without even having to speak, her eyes told me how grateful she was. I have come back to the soup kitchen many times after that night, but I will always remember the surprise vegetarian and her soulful eyes.

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