Parish and school join forces in program to feed the poor

Scrubbing and wrapping potatoes is only one of the hands-on experiences students at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Omaha are gaining as they join parishioners in helping the homeless through the "Feeding the Hungry" outreach.

Students in a different grade each month pray for the homeless, raise money to buy food, donate food items themselves, and help prepare potatoes for a monthly dinner at the Stephen Center in Omaha, said Jenny Peters, mother of four at the school and a coordinator of the effort with Paula Kehm, mother of three students.

Parishioner Irene Urzendowski leads the group of Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert Parish volunteers who cook and serve the meals to more than 100 people the first Saturday of each month during the school year, Peters said. The dinners generally include roasted chicken, potatoes, fresh fruit, salad, bread and beverages.

Families of the students involved in each dinner also are encouraged to help serve the meal, she said.

"We are trying to give students a truly hands-on experience feeding those in need in our community," Peters said. "This program is allowing all students to make a difference and to feel special, knowing that their small part is actually quite large."

Working in their classrooms, they clean, dry, wrap and bag the potatoes to help lighten the load for parish volunteers who will prepare the meal, Peters said. One group of students prepared 70 pounds of potatoes during a one-hour class.

Students also make colorful posters for the dinners, to let Stephen Center clients know who is sponsoring and preparing the meals, she said. "We’ve heard from the staff at the center the posters are a welcome and much-discussed addition to the dining area."

Peters also thanked Principal Megan Fiedler and teachers for supporting the program, now completing its second year, and for "seeing and accepting the purpose of our mission."

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