Gather to Give: Sandwich making for the homeless

Every few months, a group of friends and I gather together to give.

There was a wreath making party to support a friends adoption in December. Shoe cutting to support Sole Hope in April and in June, we made over 600 sandwiches for the Operation Sandwich project of Charlotte’s Urban Ministry.

My goal for these posts is to show you just how easy it is to gather a group of friends and neighbors to give to one of many needy organizations or individuals. It takes a little prep and a little promotion, but it is worth it. So very worth it when you see others wanting to give and getting excited about the difference that is being made.

So to get right to the nitty gritty of sandwich making. First of all, you will need to find an organization in need of sandwiches.

If you are in the Charlotte metro area, you can participate in Operation Sandwich. They accept up to 800 sandwiches every day. You will need to contact the coordinator to schedule your day, and then you’ll be on your way!

In other areas of the country, I would suggest using google to find organizations that serve food to the homeless. In the winter months there are many churches that set up winter shelters that would welcome any help with meals. You may even know of a neighborhood or area uptown that would be a good place to set up a free lunch table on a weekend day. It will take a little research, but you should be able to find something without much trouble.

Once you have the organization and date decided, it’s time to plan your party.  Just like with the other Gather to Give events, you will need to invite your people. If you have the space, ask them to invite some people too.

In the invitation, which I do primarily by email, let your friends know as much about who you will be serving and what you will be making.

I also like to include a donation aspect to my gatherings. For this event, I gathered a list of “wish list”  items that the Urban Ministry is always in need of. I made my guests aware of the needed items and added that this part of the gathering was completely optional. Some of the items on the list  included used things like twin size sheets and sleeping bags. You never know what someone my be looking to get rid of that can provide help to someone else.

Next, you will need to plan for buying the supplies and ingredients to make the sandwiches.

Aldi was my main supplier. I purchased peanut butter, jelly, deli ham, american cheese, and lots and lots of bread. I decided to buy all of the supplies up front. I calculated serving sizes and did my best to determine how much of each item I needed. I also knew that any leftover (unopened) peanut butter or jelly jars could be returned or donated to the food pantry.

Each participant brought money to reimburse my spending.

If you would rather have each person bring supplies, you could set up a signup genius.

I had learned form the Operation Sandwich website, that one of the favorite sandwiches at the Urban Ministry was egg salad. I asked a few participants to volunteer to make a batch of egg salad to bring to the party. We ended up with enough egg salad to make 200 sandwiches.

After the last gathering, a friend offered to open her home for some future gatherings. I was thrilled and she is gifted at hospitality for sure.

We set up three different sandwich making stations. One for PB&J, another for ham & cheese, and one for egg salad.

After showing a short video about the Urban Ministry of Charlotte, we put on our cute aprons and got busy making sandwiches.

We assigned station captains to lead the group. At one point the egg salad ladies were cheering and chanting… give me an E, give me a G, give me another G, etc…. and what does it spell. EGG SALAD! So much fun!

We were able to make a total of 600 sandwiches by the time it was over.

We also collected donations of toilet tissue, household cleaners, trash bags, men’s underwear, shampoos, conditioners, soap, razors, and other items needed to help support those individuals who were being placed in shared housing.

Each gathering, I try to have a thank you goodie to give to each participant. This watercolor bookmark with Proverbs 31:20 printed on it was given as a reminder that with our hands, we can do good things for those in need.

I absolutely love gathering to give. It takes preparation and a great collaboration to get things done. We not only get to visit with friends, share drinks and desserts, but we also know the privilege of giving to others.

I think we all agree, it still beats the socks off gathering for Bunco.

If you’d like to read about past gatherings, you can find them over HERE & HERE.

And please hear me loud and clear on this next thing. If you’re reading this and your heart is beating faster and you feel that you may be called to have similar gatherings in your community or with your group of people, I urge you to do it!

I would love to hear your ideas for service projects and I’d love to support you in any way that I can. We all have the potential to help, even in small ways. It is so much more fun to serve within a community… as we gather to give.