Sandwiches, bowls of chicken soup, bags of chips and dessert were prepared for 50 members of the community who are in need for the first Need Knows No Season soup kitchen at the Waynesboro Salvation Army.
Twelve members of the community came Friday.
The Friday soup kitchen is made possible with a $1,000 grant from Mid-Atlantic Kroger.
“That is just a start,” said Capt. Timothy Jo of the Waynesboro Salvation Army.
The soup kitchens will continue from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. every Friday through the end of the year, with a hope of continuing them into the new year.
The Friday soup kitchens are the result of an idea Jo had as part of the Salvation Army’s overall goal of helping homelessness and providing hunger relief in the local community.
“I wanted to have a good partnership, and that is Kroger and the [Blue Ridge Area] food bank,” Jo said.
Jo said the $1,000 from Kroger “was kind of an instant help” to get the soup kitchen started for the holiday season.
Friday was chosen as the day to serve the homeless, according to Jo, because the Disciples’ Kitchen at Second Presbyterian Church, which is within walking distance on North Delphine Avenue from the Salvation Army, serves the homeless Mondays through Thursdays.
The Disciples’ Kitchen has usually 35 to 45 members of the community who are in need come Mondays through Fridays, so the Salvation Army is expecting the Friday soup kitchen attendance to increase.
The Waynesboro Salvation Army provides utility and rent assistance in an effort to prevent homelessness. So far this year, 940 individuals have been assisted with a total of $110,233.
Jo said that some members of the community can become homeless after missing just one month’s rent payment.
“Just one thing happening — like fixing the car” can create homelessness, Jo said.
The hope is that the Friday lunch will enable homeless members of the community to save money and get caught up.
In 2019 so far, the Waynesboro Salvation Army has provided an overall $331,385 in financial assistance, including helping with Christmas needs.
Next year, Jo said that the Salvation Army has the potential of becoming the biggest food pantry in the area by being open Mondays through Fridays and providing food from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
“We are excited. Another possibility that we can serve the community better,” Jo said.
Allison McGee, Corporate Affairs Manager for Mid-Atlantic Kroger, said the company “has a longstanding partnership with the Salvation Army in Waynesboro, and our team is thankful for this impactful opportunity to partner together on Needs Know No Season.”
“These feedings for the homeless community, which support the local food bank and soup kitchen, align seamlessly with Kroger’s efforts to fight hunger through our Zero Hunger Zero Waste campaign,” said McGee. “We’re committed to working with Capt. Timothy Jo and his team to get food to those in need in the Waynesboro community.”
McGee said Kroger hopes “to continue the partnership into 2020.”
James Jones of Crozet volunteered Friday at the soup kitchen. He said he heard the Waynesboro Salvation Army was starting a Friday soup kitchen for the homeless.
“I think it’s important to give a portion of your time each week to the Lord’s work,” said Jones.
He added that giving tithes to your church is not the only way to give to God. Volunteering your time is also a way to give.
On Friday, Jones helps set up tables and serve food.
“I felt like I could use some of my skills [to help out],” Jones, who previously worked at Pizza Hut, said.
Jones also interned at a college and helped serve more than 300 people every day for seven months.
He said that he felt called to help at the Waynesboro Salvation Army on Friday, and hopes to continue to do so.
“We have good food, and there’s a comfortable atmosphere here for anyone who wants to come,” Jones said.
He encouraged homeless individuals to come enjoy a meal on Fridays, and also encouraged volunteers to come spend time serving others.
The Waynesboro Salvation Army is at 900 B St. in Waynesboro.