FAIRFIELD, Conn. — When Fairfield’s PTAs asked each each school in town to provide and serve a meal at the Operation Hope shelter twice a year, families at Roger Ludlowe Middle School decided they wanted to do a little more.
To that end, volunteers from the school provide a meal for 50 people at the shelter’s community kitchen every month of the school year.
“It’s really surprising how much people are willing to pitch in,” said Kim Killilea, mother of a sixth-grader who is the coordinator for the effort this year. “It’s amazing how generous people really are.”
And that makes it easy for Killilea to divvy up the required meals among several families. Each provides a main dish, carbohydrate or vegetable side, salad or dessert for 25 guests at the shelter.
Another four people — children have to be 13 or older — volunteer to serve the meal from 5 to 7 p.m. on a Friday night.
Donna Schmidt, Operation Hope's volunteer program manager, said it takes many volunteers for the shelter to run its community kitchen, providing about 40,000 meals a year.
"We just want to say thank you," she said. "We can't do this without (their) support."
While the middle school families are helping others staying in the shelter or stopping by for a meal, Killilea said they get a lot out of the experience as well.
Children on the volunteer teams get to see those who may not have their financial means and do something tangible to help.
“We live in such an affluent community,” Killilea said. “They get to have that joy of making someone’s day. It helps a child open up their world a little bit.”