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Giving Back, Giving Thanks
Rachelle Garbarine

One of the best ways to give thanks is to give back and Cardinal Gibbons Outreach Program makes that a priority every Monday through its work feeding the hungry at The Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Raleigh.

Director of Outreach Ministry Gary Meyerl ’82 said our work at the Soup Kitchen, brings to life one of the Corporal Works of Mercy - providing food for the hungry. To that end, Gibbons makes sure people are available to staff the Soup Kitchen very Monday of the year.

So how does this outreach experience builds upon the one these students had last year volunteering at the day care center “During their freshman year we give them an experience that focuses on the value of life,” said Meyerl. “We build upon that experience by having them work together in solidarity and respecting the dignity of the human person – regardless of their race, gender, age or economic status. In the end, it’s all about providing our students the chance to use their gifts and talents in helping to build the Kingdom of God in their own backyard.”

From the time they enter the soup kitchen until they leave at around 1 p.m. students are busy preparing the meal that will feed the men, women, and children who come for lunch, which typically numbers in the 250- 300 range each day. Students spend the morning performing different activities, from cutting bread and preparing salad to slicing cake.

For students, their time at the soup kitchen proved to be both rewarding and formative. Just ask sophomores Jackson Reed and Auburn Robertson; both described the experience as eye-opening.

“I often forget there are so many people living so close to us who lack basic necessities that we are all so fortunate to have,” said Robertson.  Reed agreed and added: “Some people have it very tough out there and I think this (volunteering at the soup kitchen) really brought me to realize that I can help to make a difference for these people.”

Following our morning, Meyerl said the sophomores go to the InterFaith Food Shuttle, the organization that helps to recover and distribute the food that the students prepared and served at soup kitchen.

Is the experience more impactful with Thanksgiving just days away? “Thanksgiving certainly reminds us to be grateful for the abundance of life’s blessings,” Meyerl said. “But our commitment to serving the poor as a Gibbons community is just as consistent today as it is throughout the year.”

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