Caldwell Temple AME Zion Church welcomed more than 30 StudentsforService volunteers to serve 320 meals to the guests of its soup kitchen in the South Bronx, in an event organized by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH). These volunteers came from schools from all over New York, including Bronx Science, Changing the Odds (a Morris Heights Health Center project), Collegiate, Community School for Social Justice, Council for Unity, Edward R. Murrow High School, Elizabeth Irwin, Health Opportunities High School, International Leadership Charter School, John Dewey High School, Sheepshead Bay High School and Transit Tech.
“Volunteers first learned a little bit of about the history of the Church and how it has served the Bronx community for 12 years. Then, they put on aprons, gloves, and highly unflattering hairnets (or hats). Volunteers were then given jobs that ranged from planting in the community garden to setting tables for guests and serving food, and were highly encouraged to talk to the guests. This was my first volunteer experience in a soup kitchen and I met some amazing people. Some were the volunteers who were giving up their Saturday morning and afternoon to feed hungry people, and others were the guests themselves. Even though I was a complete stranger to them, they thanked me for my service and encouraged me to try my best in life. When it was my turn to eat the tasty, homemade meal, I plopped down next to an old man who seemed lonely. However, once I started talking to him, I found he was an extremely lively and well-lived person. He gave me a history lesson about the civil rights movement and told me about his education. He even let me take a picture with him. But what touched me the most when conversing with him was that he gave me some books to read; books that he talked about in our conversation. He actually went home, picked them up, and brought them back. I did not ask him about his family but I think he would make an amazing grandfather. The Caldwell Temple Soup Kitchen was my first soup kitchen experience and it exceeded the fantasy in my head of people leaving happy and full. At first, I was there to serve people, to know that I did something right for them by keeping them from hunger. Then I realized that I could learn so much from the guests at the Church. The Church has done an amazing thing the past 12 years by feeding hungry people and teaching volunteers that every single person matters in the world.”
— Amanda Tam, grade 12