St. Mary's Soup Kitchen Newsletter
Issue 7: November - December 2014

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Merry Christmas and Warm Holiday Wishes from St. Mary's Soup Kitchen!

 This newsletter is your source to learn more about all the latest information and work happening at the Soup Kitchen.
Help Wanted: Know someone who would like to volunteer? If so, then please tell them about St. Mary's Soup Kitchen! We are always looking for people with a smile and a heart of service! Right now are especially in need of volunteers (individuals, families or groups) who can help fill weekday shifts which happen every Monday through Friday.

Shift Sign Up Reminder: The VolunteerSpot website link accessible at has now been updated through April 2015, so we encourage you to please schedule which days you'd like to assist ahead of time.
Whether you are a regular volunteer or just come whenever you can, please know that your time and assistance is always most appreciated! We could not do the work we do each day without you, so THANK YOU!

Have something to say?: Do you have any comments, thoughts or concerns on what we can do to make your volunteer experience even better? Please share them with us by replying to this newsletter email.

LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ORGANIZE BIG, SUCCESSFUL COAT DRIVE: Christian Brothers High School has long been a wonderful partner to and supporter of St. Mary's Soup Kitchen. While many students regularly provide hours of service to the Soup Kitchen, this year they decided to come together and get the entire school involved by organizing a winter coat drive for our customers! When many students band together with warm, caring hearts, this can only mean BIG results! This turned out to be the equation for success as collectively the students received more than 500 coats, jackets, hoodies and sweatshirts! We would like to thank all the students and their advisors, Gerry Taulman and Durant Fleming, for the excellent job in coordinating this amazing effort. The coats will come in great use to our customers this winter.

ST. MARY'S SCORES 100 ON RECENT HEALTH DEPARTMENT VISIT: We are pleased to announce that for the third consecutive time, St. Mary's fully-functioning Soup Kitchen received a perfect score of 100 during a recent surprise visit from the Shelby County Health Department. Getting a perfect score is no easy task; many of our community's restaurants score in the 90s. Thank you to all those who work so hard to keep our Soup Kitchen spic and span! This accomplishment is a direct reflection of the dedication of our amazing volunteers.

UPDATE ON RON BEZON: In our last newsletter we shared that Ron Bezon, our amazing soup kitchen manager and fearless leader, had recently fallen ill. We are grateful to report that Ron is feeling much better and has gotten the "all clear" from his doctors that he can return to the Soup Kitchen soon! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers; we look forward to welcoming him back!

St. Mary's Clothing Ministry is keeping very busy, which means we could still use a number of gently worn items to ensure we continue to have enough for the poor and homeless in our community. While we appreciate any and all donated items, we are currently all set with women's clothing. Below is what we are in most need of at this time:
- men's pants (sized 32-40)
- socks 
- underwear (sized M - XXL)
- undergarments
- jackets, hoodies or coats
- sneakers
- gloves, hats and winter wear 

Thanks so much for your assistance and generosity!

These days we're likely finding ourselves doing a lot of shopping; especially in the midst of the holiday season. Whether you're out buying groceries or shopping for those on your Christmas lists, the next time you're at the checkout counter please ask the cashier to put your items in plastic bags. Many of our customers prefer to take their food with them to go and will often ask for more bags than we have on hand. 

Or, if you happen to have plastic bags around your home or office and would like to dispose of them, please drop them off at St. Mary's. Our customers thank you!


Are you looking for that perfect gift for that family member, friend, coworker, boss or special someone who seems to have everything? If so, give the gift of helping others and consider making a donation to St. Mary's Soup Kitchen this holiday season. An acknowledgement card will be mailed directly to them per your contribution.

Donating is easy! All you need to do is contact the Church office at 901-522-9420 or mail your donation and the names/addresses to St. Mary's at 155 Market St. Memphis, TN 38105.


"Friends Always"

Frequent customer 
Theddy Wilkkes shares another inspiring poem that is dedicated to his friends around Memphis and at the Soup Kitchen.

"When things go wrong like they sometimes will,
When the road you're traveling is all uphill,
When funds are low and debts are high,
You want to smile but you have to sigh.

When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but never quit.

A friend who is true, is a friend to the end,
Someone with whom you can always depend.
They will pick you up when you're feeling down,
With them there is no gaming or fooling around.

They're cool, honest and harbor no ill will;
They'll stand by your side and even offer you a meal.

So if you're blessed enough to have such a friend,
Always cherish them to the end."


St. Mary's Soup Kitchen and Clothing Ministry hosted a number of groups who helped carry out our mission of serving the poor, homeless and less fortunate in our community, since our last newsletter distribution in late October.

We'd like to give a big THANK YOU to the following groups who chose to help in need either by volunteering their precious time and/or providing a generous contribution to directly benefit our customers:
Above and Beyond Electric

Christian Brothers High School
(managed a school-wide coat drive and delivered 500 coats)
(provided a generous monetary contribution)

First United Methodist Church

Girl Scout Troop 13079 Jr.

Girl Scout Troop 10917 Cadets

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Louis Catholic Church Youth Ministry

(prepared more than 2,000 sandwiches)

St. Louis School Boy Scouts
(prepared more than 150 sack lunches)

USAF ROTC from the University of Memphis

Yates Construction

(provided more than 500 pounds of canned food)

Each one of you did outstanding work and we are so appreciative of your service (as are our customers)!

If you are interested in bringing a group to volunteer or would like to bring your group back and assist again, please sign up on VolunteerSpot and notify Martin.

Miki Parker Skeen &            
Janie Kathryn Skeen

In each issue, we get to know one of our Soup Kitchen volunteers. In this one, we're doing something a little bit different, by highlighting two very special volunteers. Here's a bit about Miki Parker Skeen and Janie Kathryn Skeen, in their own words. This dynamic mother-daughter duo volunteers regularly and has such a passion and enthusiasm for serving the poor and homeless in our community:

We've been at St. Mary's Soup Kitchen since...2013. However, in June 2014, we started coming on a regular basis every Tuesday.

We got involved...through Volunteer Odyessy. I (Miki) saw it and thought we could try it and that Janie Kathryn would be able to do this as well. We ended up really enjoying the experience as well as the company and wanted to come back!

Our most memorable moment working at the Soup Kitchen is...recently we were volunteering and there was a nursing student working alongside us who was volunteering for the very first time. When one of our guests needed assistance, she sprung right into action and made sure he was comfortable (Miki). Also when we volunteered on Veteran's Day and schools were closed for the day. It was really cool when a bunch of other children came in to volunteer with their families (Janie Kathryn).

Something most people don't know about us is...We have chickens and ducks in our backyard in East Memphis! We also do other volunteer work. In fact, in January 2014, we are going to put together a Martin Luther King Jr. Month of Service, where we'll work with others to give back to the community in a variety of ways.

Our favorite thing about Memphis is...the people of Memphis (Miki) and of course, going to Memphis Grizzlies games (Janie Kathryn)!

One piece of advice we'd give to new or prospective volunteers is...volunteering here is as much about working with other volunteers as it is helping others; in fact, we think this is what really makes the whole experience. There are many applicable life lessons that can be learned at the Soup Kitchen as well. Finally there is always something for younger children to do as well.
St. Mary's Clothing Ministry serves customers every Saturday and volunteers are needed from 7:15 - 10 a.m. If you are interested in volunteering for this great ministry, please notify Martin Johnson and sign up on VolunteerSpot
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