El Caldito (soup Kitchen) El Caldito has been collecting food and serving meals to the homeless and poverty stricken population of Las Cruces since 1984. At that time it was only able to offer a hot meal one day a week. In 1998, the soup kitchen moved to its present location on the campus of the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope where it now serves a hot meal 6 days a week and a carry out sack lunch on Saturdays. While not all the clients are homeless, for most this is the only meal they get each day.
Although there are a few staff employees of the soup kitchen, the continued success of the soup kitchen lies in the hundreds of volunteers who collect, prepare, and serve the 200-300 meals every day. Volunteers come in from all over and often include young people doing community service and sometimes special needs school groups as well. Interacting with fellow volunteers is as rewarding as interacting with the clients we serve.
I am not sure exactly when First Christian Church first became involved in the soup kitchen. When Rita and I started attending FCC as snowbirds in 2006 the church had been involved for many years, and has taken the lead for meal preparation and serving it on the 4th Tuesday of the month. Among the FCC crew chiefs are Hope Coburn, Carol Verplough, Pat Puckett, and Ann McPhee.
As the years have passed, the number of volunteers from FCC has continued to grow smaller and smaller. Yet those of us who are there on the 4th Tuesday are as energetic as ever. And although the new crew chief is not associated with FCC in anyway, the 4th Tuesday of the month is still considered to be FCC Tuesday.
Volunteering in the soup kitchen is a most rewarding experience. There are opportunities to work from 8:00 am to around 10:30 am in meal preparation. Or you can come around 10:30 and be available to help serve and cleanup, or come around 8:00 and stay till 1:00 or so and participate in the entire experience.
Last March our 13 year old granddaughter from Colorado helped while visiting us. I can tell you she was the hit of the kitchen staff that day and was beloved by volunteers and clients alike. She can’t wait to come back and do it again. While most of us were looking for break times, she kept asking the crew chief for more work to do. I know it was an experience she will never forget.
So if you have never had this experience, please think about joining us on the fourth Tuesday of every month – just show up. If you have questions, I’ll be glad to talk with you.
However, if Tuesdays are not good for you, Diane, the Volunteer Coordinator for El Caldito (firstname.lastname@example.org) says they always need extra volunteers every 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Thursdays of the month. So please think about helping in this most important and long-time mission of First Christian Church. For more information check out elcalditolc.org.