A team of Sacred Heart School National Honor Society volunteers joined forces with community members Monday morning to achieve one simple goal — feeding the hungry.
For at least the 30th year, parishioners, current and former students and other volunteers took to the kitchen in the Sacred Heart School cafeteria, cooking up a traditional holiday meal. Through the day on Tuesday, about 50 people dined and enjoyed some holiday cheer at the school while a team of volunteers fanned out through the community delivering an additional 480 meals to the disabled, the elderly, homebound individuals and inmates at Pettis County Jail.
Barb Hagebusch, NHS coordinator, said the students take the lead in the annual meal, with preparations beginning weeks before the event.
“We rely on donations, but somehow the needs are always met. The students don’t do it alone,” Hagebusch said. “This is really a community effort.”
Among the students on hand Monday morning was Megan Ortmeyer, a senior and NHS president. Joining Ortmeyer in duties that included boiling potatoes and loading up boxes of desserts were Jesse Carroll, senior, and Virginia Vanegas, junior.
While Ortmeyer and Carroll have helped with the meal before, this was Vanegas’ first year, and by all indications she felt good about the effort.
“This is a nice way of giving a gift,” she said.
With the smell of holiday cooking and a festive atmosphere mixing with traditional carols from the likes of Bing Crosby and Andy Williams, Carroll added that “it’s kind of fun, too, just to be here.”
Ortmeyer said each student is required to bring one pie to contribute to the meal, and all NHS members are expected to be in attendance.
“It’s required of us, but I think most of the time everyone is glad to be here to help. People don’t feel like they have to do this; they want to,” Ortmeyer said.
Hagebusch told the Democrat on Monday afternoon that a little extra pre-planning and some additional volunteers helped this year’s meal go smoothly.
“We had a lot of folks come in to work so we were done delivering meals a lot earlier this year,” she said.
She also praised students for their attitude and commitment to the annual Sacred Heart tradition.
“They got in there and really worked. It’s great when they ask you ‘Can I do anything else?’ It was a really good group,” she said.