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When is a meal more than just a meal? When it does more than feed a physical hunger. On Easter Sunday The Salvation Army’s Towers Center of Hope served a free community lunch to anyone who was hungry. Each person gathered around the table that day had a unique story and path that brought them there.

We don’t always get to know the stories of the people who come for a meal. We may see them just that once and then never again. Or they may come for a meal and see that The Salvation Army can help them in other ways too. One Salvation Army staff member shared the stories of a few of the people she interacted with on Easter.

He asked for duct tape, but what he needed was shoes

One of the men who joined us for Easter lunch made a simple request when he was given a hygiene kit. Could we spare a piece of duct tape? When our staff member asked what it was for, the man admitted that he needed the tape to repair his shoes, which were in poor shape. The staffer could hardly believe the great timing of the man’s need. Just days before a local woman had donated over 200 pairs of shoes in all different sizes – the results of her own personal Lent project to help those in need. She had held a Pampered Chef party and asked all participants to bring shoes to donate. The man was brought to the shelves holding the donated shoes and picked out a brand new pair that fit him perfectly. He was simply amazed at the kindness shown to him by someone he would probably never meet.

A couple experiencing hard times is embraced by community

While living out of their car, one couple heard about The Salvation Army’s Easter lunch on the radio. They came expecting only a meal. But when a Salvation Army staff member talked to them, she realized they needed a bit more support. In addition to giving them a list of resources and referrals for their immediate needs, they were also provided with additional food, a change of clothes, laundry soap, and a voucher for a laundromat so they could wash their clothes. While they were sharing their story, a volunteer overheard that the man was a mechanic in need of work. The volunteer had a friend who owned a shop and he gave the man contact information to inquire about work.

When external wounds aren’t all that needs healing

While serving the Easter meal, a Salvation Army staff member noticed a man with bandages on his arm that looked in need of changing. She asked if she could help him. As she freshened up his wound dressing he shared with her the very difficult circumstances that had brought him there that day. Her heart breaking for him, she asked if he would like her to pray with him. They prayed over his struggles and he felt a bit better afterward, saying that what he’d needed most in that moment was a meal and to know that someone cared. The staffer gave him referrals to the local agencies that could best meet his immediate needs and welcomed him to come back anytime.

These are only three of the stories of the people who came to The Salvation Army for a simple meal. Every night of the year we serve a hot meal to anyone who is hungry. This ministry is made possible by donors who share their treasure, and by volunteers who share their time and talent.

If you are interested in volunteering at our meal ministry or in other ways, contact our volunteer coordinator Meghan Keith at 904-301-4846 or at meghan.keith@uss.salvationarmy.org.

April is the perfect time to give a financial gift to The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida. This month all gifts are MATCHED up to $20,000. To give to the match and double the impact of your gift, go to: http://bit.ly/SalArmyMatch

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