Debby Schamber – For The Record

Local soup kitchen serves with love

Christmas is known as the season of giving, but one local soup kitchen is the recipient of gifts throughout the year.

Sometimes the gifts may be of someone’s time, food items among other things. But, each is still valuable nonetheless.

“The Christmas season celebrates the life of our Savior and the principles He taught and the sacrifice which is our heritage,” said Glenda Lucia, of the soup kitchen at St. Mary’s Church. “We are so blessed and we should want to pay it forward.”

The soup kitchen at St. Mary’s began about 40 years ago by Rosalie Lakin. For the last nine years, Johnny and Glenda Lucia have devoted their time and efforts. They do things such as the grocery shopping and planning the meals.

About an average of 125 people line up outside the doors on Wednesday ready for the hot meal. On other days they go to other area churches. For some this is the only meal they will have that day. The Lucias don’t see this as a chore, but the opportunity to help someone. Not only do they serve delicious food prepared with love, but the people who go  there are greeted with a smile and made to feel welcome.

“We are one of the few soup kitchens who through the ministry counsel people less fortunate,” Glenda Lucia said. “Part of the giving spirit is giving without judging them.”

But, they could not do it without volunteers and donations. The wonderful volunteers come from all of the area churches and businesses. Some volunteers are retired while others volunteer their time outside of their job.

First Financial Bank has been a dedicated contributor for a while. They initially started a project six years ago to collect canned goods and help serve the food. But over the years, it has changed. Now every Wednesday they bring all kinds baked goods such as cookies and cakes to be served. The delectable desserts are a welcome treat.

Also there to help are the students from St. Mary’s School. Students from the Honor Society and Student Council go to the soup kitchen and give up their own lunch time to help others. Other St. Mary groups who make donations are the St. Mary Catholic Daughters, Knights of Columbus and the Altar Society.

 In addition, the  students and staff from Lamar State College-Orange collect canned goods and clothing for donation purposes. But, not to be outdone, the staff at the Orange County Probation office also collects items to be donated.

Area businesses such as Palais Royal held a clothing drive and donated the collected clothing while Walgreen’s donates their after holiday items. The soup kitchen is always happy to receive the generous donation of turkeys and hams for the holiday meals from Print Pac.

The Mardi Gras Krewe da Bayou gives an annual donation so needed items can be purchased. Other local donations are from the families of Ike Hubert, Dr. Miller, Stephen Lee, Harry Langston and April Waguespack. Doyle Perkins with WB&B donates food items. He recently gave a large bag of rice which will be used Wednesday when a hearty bowl of gumbo is served.

The gift of time is just as important. Family Pharmacy and some local nurses go to the soup kitchen to give flu and pneumonia shots. For some who feel trapped because they are without financial resources, the gift of health is priceless.

There may be other donations that were not mentioned, but it does not mean they are not valuable.

“We are very grateful for everything we receive,” Glenda Lucia said.