We have been doing Stone Soup for seven years. The Mobile Jaycees have the Children Shopping Tour that has been going on since Woolworths was downtown. We take kids from different organizations shopping for other people. A lot of them are foster kids and inner-city missions kids. Seven years ago, I took brothers shopping and got to know their foster mother. She had to quit her job because one of the brothers had severe disabilities. He had many outbursts at school and she needed to spend more time there with him. Foster parents get so little to support the kids. My friend Kelly and I decided we were going to give ten families Christmas dinner. We fried turkeys and did all of the sides, delivering to the families that St. Mary’s Home gave to us. The next year we doubled it, adding Penelope House, the residents at Ronald McDonald House, and the NICU and PICU staff at Women’s and Children’s. The third year we moved to The Grounds because we needed more space. This year we are doing 80 complete meals. The Jaycees help us buy the turkeys and people and restaurants donate the rest. Carrington Foods donates all of the dressing, no matter how much we need. I don’t know half of the people who cook the sides and desserts from their own kitchens. Some of the foster families are 14-20 people. One family has 16 foster kids. Another family had seven foster kids, most have some form of special needs, and they adopted all of them.
This dinner is a sign of love and to thank foster parents for taking in kids that their parents didn’t care about. We hope this takes a little pressure off these parents during the holiday season and gives them more time with their families since they don’t have to cook. Kelly started a Facebook group called Stone Soup-Christmas Dinners. We made the post with needs on December 1. Within three hours, people signed up for 75 macaroni and cheese, 75 green beans, 75 sweet potato casseroles, over 100 desserts and sweet teas. We will spend the 22nd and 23rd picking up food from drop-off houses around the city. It is organized chaos. We get to The Grounds at 2 a.m. on the 24th and start cooking. We will have 20-25 Jaycee fair and rodeo guys frying turkeys. We give families the option of pickup and delivery. We love them picking up so we can see the kids. Last year we fed 150 people at the Waterfront Rescue Mission because people brought us extra turkeys. This year we are feeding some of the families in Sybil Smith at Dumas Wesley and the Regional School. The first delivery is at 8 a.m. and we are through by noon. I don’t sleep the night before and I am a zombie on the afternoon on Christmas Eve, but seeing the happiness from families and the kids is worth it.
I am an only child and from a small family. Mom was a teacher and we were always doing things for other people, so being able to help other people is Christmas for me. My husband and ten-year-old son are very involved with Stone Soup. I hope my son continues this and can wheel me out there to hold a box when I am old. If he learns nothing from me, I hope that he learns some kids families in Mobile have nothing, but we can do something to help them.