Volunteering at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen is like life: quite often it’s unpredictable, and the pace can change at any given moment! Our tasks are varied and include preparing and serving meals to the physically and spiritually hungry within our community. However, feeding hungry people is just a portion of what we do.
A ‘typical’ Monday through Friday involves opening the church at 3:00 pm, and jumping right in to the action. Tables are set and the meal is prepared. There are donations, like bakery goods and produce, which are arranged on our ‘take home’ table – items on these tables are for our guests’ use at home.
At 4:15, the soup kitchen doors are opened wide to welcome our guests. Cold drinks like juice, milk and water are served to them at their seats; hot drinks such as coffee and tea are self-serve. The atmosphere is like a reunion as people chat, reconnect, and share stories.
The meal is ready by 4:30, and that is when one of our volunteers or staff members calls for everyone’s attention; we then offer an impromptu blessing on the food and thanks for God’s provision of it.
Meals are then served restaurant style: Plates are prepared in the kitchen, and served by the volunteers manning the dining room. Once everyone is served, the delivered meals (for our homebound guests) are prepared. After the deliveries are set to go, seconds are served to those in the dining room. The dirty, empty plates are removed from the tables and brought back to the dishwasher. Clean plates are used for second and third helpings. We like to provide as many servings as people desire. Meals are served until 5:30 pm.
Once most of our guests have eaten, desserts will be circulated. The rule for dessert is the same here as it is at most homes. Only those guests who have eaten (or have attempted to eat) meals are allowed to have dessert. Our mission, after all, is to provide a nutritionally balanced meal to those in need.
When a guest leaves, we clear their dishes and send them to the dishwasher. Once a table is completely vacant, all remaining dishes are sent to the dishwasher, whether it was used or not, for sanitation; any food left on the table is thrown away. The chairs are folded and placed on top of the table.
We begin to sweep when the dining room is empty, or 5:30, whichever comes first. The kitchen is also cleaned, swept and mopped, as well as the bathrooms.
Volunteers are usually finished slightly before 6:00 pm.
The above tasks are a general overview of what we do at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen. Your actual volunteer work will depend largely on what our needs are for the day. Please do not limit yourself by an uncooperative attitude. Washing dishes, cleaning and sweeping are essential and everyone should pitch in.
Some other tasks you may be asked to do might include light cleaning (i.e.: emptying trash cans, and vacuuming our office), light maintenance of our facilities (i.e.: sweeping the sand from in front of our office door, litter duty, etc.), shelving donated items in our pantry; sorting through donated clothing; and even light office work.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of jobs you might be doing while volunteering at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen. Please keep in mind that the staff members will not ask you to do anything that they have not already done themselves, nor will they ask you to do something that you might not be capable of doing, nor what they would be willing to do themselves.