HALEYVILLE - Haleyville Middle School is opening its doors, while the entire school system opens its heart to those in need throughout the community for their first-ever soup kitchen on Christmas Eve ,Tuesday, Dec. 24.
HCS has focused throughout their programs, such as Neighborhood Bridges, the need to give supplies and other items to students in need through alerts sent via e-mail.This time, staff across the HCS district are lending helping hands by making soups and grilled cheese sandwiches, which will be served to anyone in need, not just parents or guardians of students at HCS, Middle School Principal Bo Wilcoxson pointed out.
The event will be held from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the middle school cafeteria, with the school’s main entrance facing the elementary school, open for people from hopefully throughout the county to come in for a hot bowl of soup, grilled cheese, crackers, a drink and dessert, Wilcoxson explained.
“For about a month, I had something on my heart, something I needed to do, but I didn’t know what,” Wilcoxson said.
“One morning it hit me; maybe we could feed some people on Christmas Eve,” he added. “A free meal, and we are going to have plenty of soups.”
Teachers throughout the entire HCS district are volunteering to cook a crock pot of soup, Wilcoxson said.
“I know Christmas Eve is a very busy time, but if they could drop off a crock pot with their name on it, we’ll keep it,” said Wilcoxson.
The school is also accepting monetary donations to help purchase items that will be needed for the meal, such as paper bowls, plates, napkins and eating utensils. Donations can be made by coming by the middle school office, he said.
“We’ve got an envelope, and we’re taking the money,” said Wilcoxson.
Grilled sandwiches will be made by the schools Child Nutrition Program Coordinator Emma Anne Hallman with the assistance of cafeteria workers from all three schools, officials said.
“I say quite often that hunger does not discriminate,” Hallman said. “We see this daily in our school lunchrooms, and I know hunger goes well past our school doors, too.”
Hallman said she loved the idea of having a soup kitchen at school to feed the hungry.
“Part of what we instill in our students, faculty and staff is to Serve with Pride,” Hallman added. “This project does just that.”
Staff will also be bringing desserts, with messages sent out via social media by HCS Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland, where teachers can sign up to bring soups or desserts.
“It’s strictly voluntary,” Wilcoxson said. “This is just a chance for us to give back to the community.”
On hand at the middle school will be Wilcoxson, Assistant Middle School Principal Tammy Hatton along with other volunteering staff and administrators.
Santa Claus will also be visiting the middle school to show his support for this event. In fact, pictures will be made with good old St. Nick, also free of charge, according to Wilcoxson.
“Anybody who would like to come and have a good meal, please come. We’ll have a meal and fellowship,” said Wilcoxson.
“We are so fortunate to have the support we have from our community, and we just want to say thank you to them,” he added.“I hope we have a whole lot of people here.”
Advertisements have been left with food banks at various churches, as well as alerts given to Back Pack Ministries, which provides food for students in need to take home over weekends.
If people cannot stay and eat at the middle school cafeteria, to-go boxes will be available for them to take the meals with them, school officials said.
Hatton added, “We are so blessed to live in a community where we can share our resources with others and meet the needs of those who are in need.
“To bring together those in fellowship during this time of year,” Hatton said, “that’s what makes our community so special because we can create and build those bonds, such as in a family environment.”
Sutherland added the holiday season is great time for HCS to give back to the Haleyville community.
“Mr. Wilcoxson had the great idea of having a soup kitchen to give back to those needing a warm meal, and it took off from there,” Sutherland pointed out.
Sutherland emphasized this event is completely voluntary, and that it is understandable that due to it taking place on Christmas Eve, several may not be able to help.
“As a district, we want to find ways to live our motto of Serve with Pride, and this is a great way to do it,” she added.
“At HCS, we are excited about this community service opportunity,” Sutherland concluded.
Wilcoxson thanked everyone who is helping organize the soup kitchen.
“Any kind of support they can give is just greatly appreciated,” Wilcoxson said.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.