By Tina Sipula
Spring was short-lived here in Central Illinois, but with it and the Lenten Promise of hope and resurrection, we were very blessed by the generosity of several churches and organizations that did food drives for us. We thank two churches, especially, Holy Apostles Orthodox Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church, who annually collect food for us during the whole Lenten Season. Both churches get their youth groups involved to collect and deliver the food during their 40 days of fasting and good works. Truckloads of canned goods and dry goods were hauled in by young strong arms each week and we are encouraged to be witnesses of their faith in action.
Last week was the annual Postal Worker’s food drive, and we were blessed to receive a truckload of food from the generosity of many within our community. We have been promised a collection from the Mennonite Church this summer, and we hope that more churches or organizations or Bible Study Camps would adopt us also. It is these mini-food drives that help us get through the summer months when our numbers in the line and at the soup kitchen swell.
Approximately 80-100 people are in our food line, and our soup kitchen, “Loaves and Fishes,” feeds about the same number of folks each week. With school letting out soon, we know there will be many children at our door and at our tables. Last week, one of our benefactors donated 90 Subway sandwiches to the soup kitchen, and it was a real treat! For the past few months, Schooner’s Restaurant has donated soup and bread to “Loaves and Fishes,” and we all feel as if we have suddenly gone gourmet! One day, while feasting at Schooner’s, I was so impressed with their tomato basil soup that I asked for the recipe. One of the owners of the restaurant replied, “Better yet, we will make it and bring it to you with homemade bread from the Grove Street Bakery!” We pray it is a relationship that will last a long time!
Our annual summer visitors, Fr. Patrick Caveglia and Moira Sennet will arrive to bless our home in July. Fr. Patrick has been vacationing here at Clare House since we opened in 1978, but it is more of a vacation for me, as he takes over much of the cooking, pitches in at the soup kitchen and helps Bob and I put up sweet corn for the winter. Moira has been helping out every summer for about a dozen years and loves our trips to the soup kitchen and helps me can and freeze what is donated from local gardens. As a teacher of English and Theology, she scours the Clare House library and works on lesson plans to promote moral and ethical teachings to combat a world seemingly gone mad with consumerism, war, and injustice and a church hierarchy that runs rampant with rules, rubrics and sexism. Moira also gives Bob and me a little break so we can take our summer week off so we can have time to ourselves. August means many gardens will be flourishing. For the first time, Illinois Wesleyan University is growing a garden for us, and we are delighted! The people in our lines seldom get fresh produce, so we are happy to pass it on to them each summer and autumn. If you have extra to share, just put it on our front porch with any bags you may have, and it will disappear very quickly. (I swear there are people living in our front yard tree and just watch for what lands on the porch!)
We dedicate this humble issue to how small things can make a big difference in the world. Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, dedicated her life to living the Gospel, among the destitute, the homeless, the sick and unwanted and worked “little by little” to restore them to dignity and self-respect. If everyone does their little part, what a different and blessed world this would be!