Biloxi Soup Kitchen Continues Thanksgiving Tradition

A Biloxi soup kitchen served its traditional "day after Thanksgiving" meal Friday.

Like so many homes and businesses, "Loaves and Fishes" is still recovering from the damages of Hurricane Katrina. But the longtime social service program is slowly coming back.

Teenage volunteers got the chairs ready.

"We always opened up on Friday and had our feast. I thought it was appropriate to do it this year," said soup kitchen manager Rita Baldwin.

Busy hands get turkey and dressing ready, while others cut the cake and prepare desserts.

"We're going to make the trays," said one volunteer.

"We're just like, kind of starting over," Baldwin said.

This day after Thanksgiving feast is the first meal served here since "Loaves and Fishes" got rocked by Hurricane Katrina. Nearly nine feet of water filled the ministry on Main Street. With the building now mostly repaired, it's important to resume the meals.

"What we're trying to do is be a beacon of hope. Because what we want is to transition back into what we used to do, so the relief people can transition out," said Baldwin.

"We've been making it a tradition every Friday the day after Thanksgiving, to come here with the kids," said Scott Cooper.

The Cooper family has been volunteering there since their youngest was in diapers. Helping others is a lesson in life for the children.

"The biggest thing we feel, my wife and I about raising kids, is setting examples in a positive way. And not so much in a monetary way," said Scott Cooper.

The spirit of volunteerism has always been evident at the soup kitchen.

Teens from a Keesler church group are among those who pitch in every year. For now, Loaves and Fishes will serve meals "whenever possible," while looking ahead with hope.

"Hopefully, by this time next year we'll be just like we used to be," said Baldwin.