Christian Care Ministries provides physical, spiritual food to Opelika’s needy
By Anna-Claire Terry
The Christian Care Ministries soup kitchen recently celebrated 15 years of serving those in need in the Opelika area.
According to John Johnson, who serves as the kitchen coordinator, volunteers prepare lunch every Thursday at 11 a.m. Volunteers begin work at 9 a.m., and 100 to-go plates are sent out to those who are homebound. More than 250 plates are prepared in the dining room for anyone who wishes to partake in the weekly meal.
The soup kitchen is non-denominational and serves people from all walks of life. The kitchen is maintained on 100 percent donations from churches, businesses and individuals. A large portion of the food served comes from the East Alabama Food Bank.
Ken Allen serves as Senior Chaplain and offers spiritual help to anyone who comes to the soup kitchen. Allen also conducts a devotional every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. before the meal.
According to Allen, one of the goals of the soup kitchen is to feed people the physical food to lead them into the spiritual food and to enrich the lives of others with a message of hope and love instead of a message of condemnation.
“Some of these people are less prosperous, and they have a natural attitude of looking at themselves as less than others. To us, they’re not,” Allen said.
Mollie Morris is a regular at Christian Care Ministries. Morris praises the volunteers for the love they have shown her and her two boys. She said the meal might not seem like much to some because it is once a week, but it is still very important.
“I really love the atmosphere here. It’s something I look forward to every week,” Morris said. “ I don’t believe some kids would get a hot meal each week if it were not for the soup kitchen.”
Joseph Haynes has attended the weekly meal at the soup kitchen for five years. He lost everything in a house fire in 2014, and the soup kitchen has provided him with a place to enjoy a hearty meal and community fellowship.
“They help people who are economically in need, and they don’t look down on anybody,” Haynes said. “There are some very loving people here. It’s a great place to be, and the vision behind it is enormous.”
According to Oscar Penn, another long-time attendee of the weekly meal, the soup kitchen creates harmony in the community. He also said it is a place where people who are going through hard times can go for comfort or just for someone to talk to.
“We laugh, we talk, we share a meal. It brings love to a community that might not have had that,” Penn said. “We appreciate having this in our neighborhood.”
Many volunteers of the soup kitchen said they feel they get as much out of volunteering as they are putting into it.
Char Warren has volunteered for 10 years and is in charge of preparing dessert each week. She said she enjoys getting to know everyone who comes through the soup kitchen.
“We love to serve these people,” Warren said.
Fred Roberts is an active volunteer in the soup kitchen. Roberts said he looks forward to working every week because it is a way of giving back to the community. He enjoys seeing young people come in and having the opportunity to serve others.
“We don’t care if you’re rich or if you don’t have two nickels to rub together,” Johnson said. “We won’t turn anybody away. This is all God’s food, and we look at it like we are just serving it to his people.”
Johnson said there are only three rules at the Christian Care Ministries Soup Kitchen: you have to have fun at what you are doing, there is no wrong way to do whatever you are doing, and do not serve anything that you would not serve in your own home.
According to Johnson and Allen, the soup kitchen is always accepting donations and volunteers, but prayer helps just as much.
The soup kitchen is located at 300 Samford Court and Johnson said those who are interested in volunteering need only to show up on Thursday mornings.