By Kate Marlowe
For The Catholic Messenger
Some believe the miracle of the loaves and the fishes was not Jesus creating more food for the hungry crowd, but Jesus compelling strangers to share the food they had with them with his talk of sharing.
The Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton are receiving a similar lesson. Since beginning a program one year ago to help people with food scarcity, they have received numerous donations, volunteer help and assistance from businesses.
Sister Joan Theiss, OSF, and a group of 10 have been preparing sandwiches at The Canticle, home of the Sisters of St. Francis, for Share Our Sandwiches each Thursday morning for the past year. “The cooperation of the city and all who contributed, both individuals and businesses, has been the most edifying to me,” Sr. Theiss said.
“So many have helped in this endeavor, said Sister Anne Martin Phelan, president of the Sisters of St. Francis. “Some offered to help make sandwiches, others brought in cookies, bananas, or coats, and some took time out of their schedules to be available at the three locations to greet people and pass out lunches, toilet paper, deodorant, etc.” She noted that “when we asked the Masonic Temple, the Moose Lodge, the Fire Association, the Regency Inn, and the Human Services Building for shelter, they were happy to help. Clinton has been very generous with its gifts.”
Francie Hill, who has volunteered all year, said, “Rarely does someone come through the line who doesn’t thank us and the Sisters.” A woman at the downtown location remarked, “This is great. I’d walk a mile just for one of the candy bars. That’s just not something I can budget.”
During a recent week, 100 lunches were distributed. That adds to a total of 2,552 lunches for the year. “We were advised it takes time to build a place of trust for people in need and they were right,” said Lori Freudenberg, community outreach director for the Franciscan Peace Center. “It helped that we were patient, and it helped that we received so much generosity from the people of Clinton.
“One recent week Uncle Pat’s BBQ provided pork sandwiches. The list of help we’ve received is endless. Happy Joe’s has provided pizza on numerous occasions, other donors have been the Clinton Lumberkings, Ameri-Serve, Homer’s Deli, Sweetheart Bakery, Fareway, Hy-Vee, Corner Deli, Rastrelli’s, Kwik Star and the Alverno. Together we have helped feed people experiencing food scarcity here in Clinton.”
Share Our Sandwiches is available on Thursdays in Clinton from noon until 1 p.m. at the Masonic Temple, 416 S. 1st St.; the Regency Inn, 1522 Lincoln Way; and the Human Services Building, 250 20th Ave. N. If you would like to volunteer or donate items such as baseball caps, toilet paper, dish soap, deodorant, laundry detergent, cases of water, women’s sanitary products, lunch meat, bread, cheese or chips in lunch-size bags, please call the Sisters of St. Francis at (563) 242-7611.