'Tis the Season for JWO's Good Deeds


(AHJWO) Soup Kitchen 2008

The Atlantic Health Jets Women's Organization visited The Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown this week to donate and serve food as well as decorate the hall for the Thanksgiving season.

The soup kitchen normally serves from 80 to 180 guests daily and is open 365 days a year.

About one-third of its guests are homeless, some with mental illness or substance abuse problems. But the majority are the working poor, elderly and disabled who cannot stretch their budgets to cover the high costs of housing, transportation and health care and still afford to eat adequately.

"It's a great cause and the Atlantic Health Jets Women's Organization is happy to lend a hand," said Julie Mangini, AHJWO member and the wife of head coach Eric Mangini.

The JWO arrived with donations of fruit and canned goods before quickly getting to work. They covered tables with decorated tablecloths and lined up an impressive mix of bananas, mangos, apples and pears. Some women hung turkey festoons from the lights while others prepared food in the kitchen.

Before long, the line outside the front door had grown with hungry guests on what was a particularly chilly November day.

As the doors opened, guests filed in, took their trays and headed toward the long table of food, behind which stood the JWO volunteers, ready to serve the hot meal.

The ladies were energetic and friendly as they served soup, mixed vegetables, white rice, pork and more to the guests, many of whom returned for seconds. Wearing the Jets caps they'd received, they thanked the women for their time and even talking a little football.

Following the lunch, the women cleared the tables and brought the leftover food to the back to be sealed and refrigerated for the next day's meal. They cleaned up in the hall and the kitchen and did some dishes.

But as impressive as the ladies' teamwork was, it might not have been quite as organized without the galvanizing instructions of staff member Sandra "Betty" Jones, a volunteer of the kitchen for 17 years.

Jones has a way with words. She described the soup kitchen as "an amazing place. It's like an octopus. It has legs going everywhere."

"I love this work. It stopped being a job years ago, and now it's a ministry. The soup kitchen is an uplifting place. When I walk in these doors the same joy jumps in my heart every day."

"We had about 165 people today," said director of operations Teresa Connolly. "It was a fabulous meal. They decorated the dining room. It looked great. I think it really made it feel like a special event for our guests."

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