Soup Kitchens for the Soul

In Jen’s blog entry, she wonders if we can infuse Christmas (or Toys ‘R Us for that matter) with some soul. This Christmas, I figured that with no religious affiliations to the holiday and no family in town, rather than spend another year piggybacking on a friend’s family’s four-course meal, I would finally get around to giving back. You know, the “volunteering at a soup kitchen” schtick you always think of while reaching for your third helping of stuffing on Thanksgiving.

So I made my round of calls: The New York City Rescue Mission, God’s Love We Deliver, The Bowery Mission, feeling better about myself with each dial. God’s Love We Deliver said I had to have a car in order to volunteer (“We only need volunteer’s to deliver food up to the Bronx”). Check. NYC Rescue Mission thanked me for inquiring, informing me they’ve been fully booked since last week, “but if you want to sign up for Christmas next year, now would be a good time!” Check. I have yet to hear back from The Bowery Mission.

Sure, I’ll continue to go down the list of other soup kitchens, although I realize at this point I’m a little too late to the party. Part of me wants to roll my eyes at the absurdity that only in New York do you have to make reservations weeks in advance to get into a restaurant in the Meatpacking district or a salon in Soho or to volunteer for the homeless. The other part of me is reminded once again of how wonderful this city is, with waiting lists of people wanting to give back.