By Fr. Christopher Kubat
One of the mandates of charity given to us by Jesus was feeding the hungry. “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink” (Mt 25:34-35). In addition to our fixed and mobile food pantries, we have greatly expanded our food recovery program operated out of our Hastings office.
These programs are designed to help individuals and families obtain food for their homes to last at least a week. Because there are people who are not looking for groceries but a ready-made meal, our two sack lunch programs were started.
Our sack lunch program in Hastings is a collaborative program with a number of denominations and CSS working together. Last year, more than 38,000 sack lunches were distributed to people and families out of our near downtown Hastings office. Our sack lunch program in Lincoln is run by CSS volunteers from the Lincoln area, mostly from our Catholic parishes. Last year, we distributed over 10,000 sack lunches from our Lincoln campus. When people tell me they want to volunteer, and do not know what they want to do, I sometimes say, “If you can make a sandwich or hand them out, we can use you!”
Recently, I caught up with some of our Lincoln sack lunch volunteers during a busy stretch, when a short line had developed. One particular lady with a walker came in for help. After receiving her lunch she was asked, “Would you like a cup of coffee or water with your meal?”
After requesting water, she pulled two dollars from her purse and gave us a donation. Explaining that she was so grateful for our presence day after day, she felt compelled to give us a little gift in appreciation. She is like the poor widow Jesus pointed out who put a few small coins in the temple treasury (Mk 12:41-44).
We have to be taught how to be charitable. I am grateful to the administration, staff and students of our Catholic schools who regularly volunteer for CSS across the diocese. Recently, a large group of juniors from Pius X High School came and helped us with a warehouse cleanup project involving books and other items. As a result of their hard work, many small libraries across the city will be receiving Catholic books for people to read—a nice way of spreading our precious faith!
Last year, 590 volunteers donated nearly 45,000 hours. This translated to nearly $540,000 to the agency. This means that we could not possibly do all what we do for the poor without them and for that we are most grateful.