Tuba City soup kitchen spreads <br>holiday cheer to community
When it comes to spreading joy this holiday season, St. Jude’s soup kitchen is certainly doing its part. The kitchen, which serves between 175-200 people every Friday from 2-5 p.m., regardless of the season, more than doubles those numbers on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Ann O’Connor, who began the kitchen six years ago with a few others, has seen it grow into something that many community members rely on, and its success is largely due to community support.
“We work on a totally volunteer basis,” she says. “A couple of us do the shopping in the morning and up to five of us make the dinners. Different people also come in the help serve and clean up.” The food itself comes mostly from donations and small grants. “Bashas donated produce, dairy and bakery items, and we get a monthly donation from Westside Foodbank in Phoenix,” says O’Connor. “The menu is based on what we get from these donations.”
For the holidays, donations are increased when local businesses get very involved, she says. For example, this past Thanksgiving, Kentucky Fried Chicken donated the mashed potatoes and gravy for 511 people—no small amount. She adds to the list of generous community businesses Tuba City Insurance, Pizza Edge, the Hogan Restaurant, Kate’s Cafe, Tuba City Truck Stop, FCW Transit and Desert Floral, among others.
“We always accept donations, which are tax deductible, and of course, we always accept volunteers,” she says.
But the holiday giving does not stop at a good meal at St. Jude’s gym. The soup kitchen is also involved in putting together holiday food baskets. St. Jude’s delivered about 132 at Thanksgiving alone. Christmas food baskets have a little extra something in them—presents for the whole family.
Baskets are given out by referrals from places like community services and the public schools—each organization has so many referrals they are allowed to make.
This year, the kitchen is joining with Vanessa Brown of Community Action for Children and Youth on December 16 to help parents select the presents for their children. CACY referred parents can come to the gym, select their presents, wrap up the toys before they head home.
“For those families who can’t come, we will select the toys for them.” O’Connor thanks Toys for Tots and the Happy Factory (out of Utah) for generous donations of toys. Overall, says O’Connor, “God has really blessed us.”