“My husband kept getting laid off, and we had three little ones… I came there, and I remember a lady filled the back of my station wagon with food.”
This is how Sue Shrewsbery describes her very first encounter with a Toledo soup kitchen founded in 1982.
Today, Sue serves as Director of that organization—now known as Helping Hands of St. Louis.
What began as a soup kitchen supported by churches and donors has grown into a powerful multi-part ministry that operates Monday – Friday. It includes a Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, Snack Packs for the homeless, Hygiene Kits, Clothing Center, Public Showers, and Summer Shoe Fest fitting children with new athletic shoes.
However, with the onset of COVID-19, Helping Hands went from 30 volunteers to 2.
They found their work base dwindling to bare bones staff. In order to minimize exposure, they decided to close their community clothing center and reserve their public showers for emergency situations only.
Helping Hands needed to restructure their remaining programs in order to continue serving their community. So they transitioned by integrating prepackaged and individually wrapped foods, bagged lunches, increasing sanitation, and social distancing for staff and patrons in line.
With all that Helping Hands is doing to help our state, you may be wondering how you can take part!
What You Can Do
Sue says the best way your hands can help is:
- Ordering goods online and have them directly delivered. Some great ideas for deliveries are:
- Cleaning supplies like masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes
- Utensils for eating, like paper goods, cups, plastic-ware. The Soup Kitchen is open to take up to 4 bagged lunches Monday through Friday, usually serving 150-200.
- Canned goods like fruit, soup, tuna, and other canned meat
- Stable foods like cereal, spaghetti sauce, mac & cheese, and boxed potatoes.
- Hygiene Kit materials: washcloths, tissues, razors, toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap. These kits are available Wednesdays from 9:30 am -11:30 am for the East Toledo community.
- Brand new athletic shoes in youth sizes online. Every summer, Helping Hands holds a Summer Program Shoe Fest to “start kids off on the right foot.” 60 stations are set up to wash the feet of children in need, tell them about Jesus, and get them properly fitted for a pair of brand-new shoes. Last summer, they fitted Ohio children for over 650 pairs of shoes.
- Financial donations. This is the best way to completely eliminate donor, patron, and staff exposure to germs.
To learn more about Helping Hands of St. Louis and other Catholic Charities within the Diocese of Toledo, click below: