Hunger knows no holiday, but the hunger of more than 200 people was sated on Good Friday with a luncheon cooked and served at the Salvation Army by volunteers from Hagerstown Community College.
"It's a holiday and normally we'd be closed, but the students volunteered to come in," said Ruth Williams, the kitchen manager. Friday was her day to be served rather than serve, along with the volunteers who regularly prepare the meals for 150 or more people every weekday.
Eight minutes after the kitchen opened there were more than 100 people already seated, with the HCC students' sociology instructor Daniel Madron passing out plastic ware, drinks and plates with thick-sliced ham, mash potatoes, stuffing, corn and green beans with fruit cups and pies for dessert.
Madron once worked at Howard County Community College and his students worked with the homeless population in Baltimore. When he came here, he decided to do the same kind of outreach.
"Not everyone here is homeless, but there is need," Madron said. The 50 or so volunteers from his classes helped raise the money and get the food donated for the meal, he said.
"I want my students to recognize that they're just like everyone else," Madron said of the people sitting down for the meal. They ranged from senior citizens to families with children.
"They are not stereotypes. They're just people looking for a good meal," Madron said.
"I've been coming for four years," said 84-year-old Ruth Daley of Cearfoss, the oldest regular diner at the Salvation Army lunches, according to Williams. "I like all the people here. They're friendly."
All are welcome at the Salvation Army, with no documentation of need required to sit down at its daily lunches, Williams said.
"Usually I don't get to sit down ... We serve up to 170 meals," said Bill Gilbert, one of the volunteers.
"The benefit is you get to know these people ... You see lives change," Gilbert said. Volunteer Peggy Koontz agreed.
"Hot," was how Anna Finke, an HCC student from Hagerstown, felt after working in the kitchen. "It feels nice to help other people," she added.
"I didn't know there were so many homeless people in Washington County," said Courtney Vickery, a student from Smithsburg.
Student Gabriel Hirsch of Hagerstown, sporting a couple of mild burns on his forearms from working over a hot stove, said he had participated in a homeless awareness night at HCC, learning about the several homeless shelters in the area.
The students would be serving up another meal today at Life House West on Salem Avenue, said Madron, this time a 10:30 a.m. brunch of biscuits and gravy and ham and eggs.