Volunteers and businesses feed the hungry, day after day

Volunteers and businesses feed the hungry, day after day

Photos by James A. McBride

volunteers1-webVolunteers, like Debbie Lynam and Erma Pacheco, above, and Salesianum High School (Delaware) students Remington Christman and John Paul Meehan, below right, come every day to Cathedral Hall in Camden, to feed the hungry.volunteers2-web

CAMDEN — Five days a week, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12 noon, 500 needy and homeless step up to the small window of the Cathedral Hall looking for a meal.

And five days a week, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12 noon, the volunteers, and the food, are ready for them.

The Cathedral Kitchen, on Federal Street, serves dinner six days a week, but the Cathedral Pantry, right next to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception here off Market Street, is the only place many can get their mid-day sustenance.

Father Matthew Hillyard, OSFS, pastor of the Parish of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, saw the need to offer daily lunch, after the influx of visitors to the nearby rectory had Father Hillyard, Father Michael McCue, OSFS, and parish staff making and bagging sandwiches for the hungry.

Today there are about 20-25 weekly volunteers helping to feed the needy, including high school youth from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware; the St. Francis de Sales House in North Camden; senior citizens from Runnemede; and individuals from as far away as Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Essential to the operation, are the regular (weekly and daily) food donations from such companies as Brown’s Shoprite in Bellmawr; Dietz and Watson; Entemann’s; Dole Foods; Wegman’s; Herr’s; Utz; Pepsi-Cola; American Meat; American Water Company; CVS; and South Jersey Food Bank.

As well, the St. Thomas More Parish, Cherry Hill St. Vincent de Paul Society delivers food baskets once a month, and students at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken have also loaded a truck full of donated food to take to the Cathedral.

Recently Temple Beth Shalom in Cherry Hill delivered pasta salad, cole slaw, and hot dogs that volunteers were passing out to grateful visitors.

With the need great, Susan Mackey, outreach coordinator, is thankful for the donations.

“Whenever our food supply is down to nothing, we get filled back up,” she said.

She is equally grateful for the volunteers who help give out the food everyday, and to the Oblates, “Father Matt and Father Mike,” who serve the Cathedral.

“The Oblates have done such a wonderful job,” she said. “They are generous with their spirit of friendship and hospitality.”

“No one is better than Susan, to be in charge,” said Sister Claire Sullivan, IHM, volunteer at the Cathedral.

“She and the volunteers have an excellent response to what Jesus is asking of us, to reach out to the poor, and they all have kindness and compassion.”

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