By Rachel Batdorff
Simple meals delivered on Sundays — that’s the basic idea behind an outreach project at St. Mary Catholic Church in Huntington. The meal preparation and delivery program, known as Open Door, delivers free meals once a week to anyone in the county who may benefit from the service.
“We serve meals to people in Huntington — no questions asked,” Mike Bracht, an Open Door volunteer, said. “Those in need call a number, leave their address in a message and we deliver.”
Approximately 450 individuals benefit from the service each week, including those recovering from illness, and the elderly, financially stressed, bereaved, unemployed and handicapped. Most people hear of the service via word of mouth.
“After individuals call in with their address, I add them to a route,” Bracht said. “The routes are put in geographical order and the list goes out to the volunteer drivers Wednesday or Thursday each week.”
Those volunteers come from a wide array of backgrounds, including Huntington University students and those desiring to complete community service hours. Bracht, who has been involved with the ministry for several years and comes from a computer background, develops routes each week. The Open Door ministry is completely funded by donations.
The ministry was started by the St. Mary and Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic churches in the city. Each Saturday night and early Sunday morning, volunteers prepare food in the St. Mary’s school’s kitchen. Every Sunday, from 9:30 a.m.-noon, 19 drivers deliver it to those in need.
The meals are simple, consisting of a soup or sandwich, side dish, and dessert.
“Some individuals have received meals for 10 years,” Bracht said; “others, just for a couple months.”
Those who are added to the route remain there permanently, unless they are not home during the following week’s delivery. In that case, they are removed from the list.
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