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Fox Valley group is making a difference with hot meals for the hungry

There are people in our area who don't know where their next meal is coming.

But through the doors at the Salvation Army in Appleton, there's an army of volunteers getting ready for a feast.

Joan Malloy is one of them.

"Cause no one should go without, without food. The fact of being hungry, I can't imagine going through the day without a hot meal," Malloy said.

Almost 100 people line the room, waiting, patiently, as Malloy and the others prepare the food, cake and coffee.

"I think it's just awesome that so many people are willing to help out. And help so many others who need help. And we're here for that. And that's the neatest thing about this program is that no one should be left out, without having a nice hot meal," said Malloy.

The program is called Loaves and Fishes of the Fox Valley. It's been around since 1999.

In all, there are roughly 400 volunteers who help prepare and serve free community meals, three times a week.

"It's showing that we care and that we love the homeless; the people that need help. It's just showing them how much we care. It's giving back, actually," said volunteer, Jean Wellnitz.

In the line, you can see adults, young and old, and children too. Hands of every kind, sharing a meal together. Organizers say the experience does more than just relieve the stress of not knowing where the next meal is coming.

"What's really great about our program is that we also provide friendship, fellowship, a sense of caring, a warmness and that wonderful environment is created by our fantastic volunteers," said Shannon Krahn, Loaves and Fishes Executive Director.

Krahn says the meals provide a sense of belonging to the guests, as they chat with others at the table.

"People leave with smiles on their faces. I've had a little girl run up and hug me which was just the best feeling in the world. People love coming," said Krahn.

Krahn says once people start to volunteer, they continue, "They are the heart of our organization. They are just absolutely wonderful people."

These volunteers are making a difference in the community, one spoonful at a time.

"When I look around, and see these people, how they appreciate these meals, I learn from it, not to take things for granted," said Wellnitz.

"I think the neatest thing about volunteering is that you find more out about yourself and what it's all about is about giving back," said Malloy.


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