Lunches Made with Love

March 16, 2021

The numbers are staggering.

500: the number of bag lunches provided EVERY DAY by volunteers for Roof Above shelter programs.
3,500: the number of bag lunches provided EACH WEEK for our friends in dorms, motels, and winter shelter. That’s more lunches than a child carries to school from kindergarten through high school graduation!

Volunteers Roger & Jay with donated sandwiches

Volunteers, Roger Jones (left) and Jay Bastian (right) delivering bag lunches made by their golf group.

Wait, there’s more! A typical lunch includes one sandwich, a piece of fruit, crackers, trail mix or a granola bar, and a bottle of water. Add an extra sandwich for each man using the winter shelter and that’s 4,300 sandwiches per week. Hundreds of volunteers have embraced this vital program – lunches made with love.

The bag lunch initiative was created during the pandemic to serve those temporarily sheltered in locations other than our Tryon Shelter. Breakfast and dinner are served daily at each site, and to-go lunches make a convenient mid-day meal for guests. Volunteer Coordinator Elane Stinson tapped volunteers Jay Bastian and Roger Jones for help managing this massive effort. “They are lead volunteers because they can transition to any position. I call them my two big brothers!”

Jay and Roger didn’t know each other when they began volunteering at the Tryon Shelter nearly three years ago. When each retired and relocated to Charlotte, their hearts for service led them both to the shelter’s computer resource lab. Their paths converged when they began sharing Tuesday front desk duty, and their friendship grew.

In-person volunteering has been paused during the pandemic but Elane said that Jay and Roger never stopped calling and offering to help in any way. “To keep them engaged, I invited them to help coordinate the bag lunches and they stepped up to the plate right away.”

Jay and Roger delivering sandwiches to staff member Christina Smith for guests at one of the hotels.

The work includes monitoring group signups, coordinating deliveries and answering questions. Jay has built up an email list to engage groups to fill openings in the calendar. He said, “There are lots of long-time volunteers and I know them all.” The two friends even recruited their golf group to make bag lunches once a month, and Jay’s Rotary Club does the same twice a month.

Why do they stay involved with Roof Above’s work? Roger explained, “I had a career in sales and I like to talk to people! And this is what God wants us to do, care for our neighbors.”

Interested in helping with the bag lunch program? Visit our web page Our Wishlist | Urban Ministry Center and click on “Food” for the different program locations.