The school may not have its own kitchen to serve its students daily lunch, but that did not stop a group of school volunteers to make trips to downtown DC to serve food to folks in a homeless shelter.
AlHuda school, located in the east end of Hollywood neighborhood, began volunteering with Thrive DC! (formerly known as DPHW, the Dinner Program for Homeless Women) in 2007. The school volunteers help with preparing the food, serving, and cleaning dishes. Typically, there are between 50-100 people that come in the evening for dinner.
The program runs on a monthly basis, so volunteers head to the soup kitchen on the first Monday of every month. The recipients are primarily African-American women, but there are also several women and children from Spanish, Chinese, and Caucasian descent.
“It is truly a humbling experience for the volunteers when they come to serve.” said one school student who volunteers at the kitchen regularly. “Even though they are only coming for a couple of hours, the homeless women show a lot of gratitude and appreciation while they are being served and as they interact with the volunteers. Towards the end of the program, a lot of them end up helping the volunteers clean up and put up the tables.” – the student added.
There is a special feeling of community in the program; it is customary to see elderly folks dispensing their advice to the younger ones amongst them. There are children milling about happily and playing with others while their mothers look on after them with sad smiles on their faces. There are disabled people that are chatting animatedly with other homeless women that help them with their various duties. There are quiet individuals either lost in their thoughts, filling out crossword puzzles, or reading books, while there are loud and boisterous people right beside them laughing away and/or causing much commotion in the crowd.
In the midst of all of this are the volunteers trying to provide the attendees with a sense of normalcy as they work alongside the organizers in the homeless shelter’s soup kitchen to serve an often-neglected component of society.