A seven-hour drive from Fairfax is Meriden, Conn., where 13 George Mason University students, members of the Catholic Campus Ministry, spent their spring break.

There, they operated the Meriden Soup Kitchen for four days, cooking and serving over 500 meals. They didn’t stand behind a serving line and serve food. They accepted a plan to “take over” with limited direction.

Starting at 8 a.m. each day, some went directly to the kitchen and prepared the meal for the day — chopping, mixing, lugging pots and pans, spraying pans, washing pots and pans and making soup.

Others went to the dining room and set up tables and chairs, made coffee and juice, unloaded fresh bread products from delivery vehicles, cut cakes and pies for dessert, buttered bread, made salad and, on some days, made the soup.

The Meriden Soup Kitchen takes this opportunity to publicly thank the Catholic Campus Ministry for their hard work, dedication, sensitivity and camaraderie. I can’t name them all, but I wish I could.

Matthew Casper was the student who first made contact with me and continued exchanging e-mails with me as I tossed out proposals to him and, acting on the Ministry’s behalf, he made guarantees to me so that I could give 40 volunteers their days off.

Monday, March 14, was better than I expected on the part of both the Ministry and the MSK core of volunteers who supervised. And from there, it was all up hill.

What was extremely unique about the Mason students was their sensitivity. They took the time to sit and talk with the guests as they ate.

And they had another great attribute.

They had a sense of humor and were able to tolerate and be very flexible with us, the MSK volunteers, approximately 50 years their elders.

Thanks again for a great week.

Peter F. Meah
Meriden (CT) Soup Kitchen