DETROIT – Even without hockey, the Red Wings continue to make a difference in the community, as was evident Monday when Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Chris Osgood volunteered a few hours of their time at the Capuchin Soap Kitchen on the city’s east side.
The Wings’ trio, who all work in the organization in various capacities, served lunch to more than 400 appreciative men and women.
“To be able to come down here at this time of year and give back, especially at this time of year, at Thanksgiving, you kind of reflect on it and realize how fortunate you are,” Draper said. “It’s nice to kind of give back. This is our home. This is our community. And to be able to come down here is something that we didn’t hesitate to do.”
The former players were joined by the team’s radio broadcaster Ken Kal and community relations manager Christy Hammond, who worked the lunch line and served beef stroganoff over egg noodles, bread, and a side salad.
A lifelong Detroiter, Kal said Monday afternoon was a gratifying experience, his first as a soup kitchen volunteer.
“I’ve always wanted to help out in some way, and this is a good opportunity to help the homeless,” Kal said. “We always enjoy Thanksgiving and talk about big meals, but there are people out there that don’t have the opportunity to eat, so to do something like this, to help them out and give them a full belly means a lot to me – and to them.”
The kitchen on Conner Avenue serves working families and seniors, and as much as one-third of its meals are dinners served to children 12-years-old and younger. The meals program on Meldrum Street – which is a block from the original kitchen that was opened by Fr. Solonus Casey in 1929 – serves the chronically poor that are typically male, homeless or poorly housed and often diagnosed with mental illness and/or suffer from substance abuse addition.
According to 2011 statistics provided by Forgotten Harvest, 800,000 people in southeastern Michigan – that’s 1 in every 5 people – face hunger, or lack of food each and every day in metro Detroit. Sadly, those numbers also indicate that 1 in 2 children in the city of Detroit go hungry every day.
The Capuchin Soup Kitchen programs provide not just food, but also clothing, and counseling to those in need. In addition to preparing and serving an average of 2,000 meals a day, the Capuchins distribute household items, and operate a shower program, food pantry, and children’s tutoring and art therapy program.
Roy Hoelscher, the volunteer coordinator of the Conner Avenue facility, said the meals programs are always in need of volunteers, although it’s always especially nice when local celebrities can drop in to give of their time.
“It really is uplifting, and a lot of the guys like to get autographs,” said Hoelscher, who is in his 45th year at the soup kitchen. “Those who have little or nothing they really do like being lifted up anytime, but when we do it all together at Thanksgiving it’s particularly valuable.
“Being thankful is always a great attitude to have, and very often people who are very busy doing what they do they don’t have the opportunity to do what they could do at a season like this. The message of being grateful every day, all year is a real valuable message to all of us.”
Hoelscher’s words certainly weren’t lost on the former Red Wings.
“It’s obviously very humbling,” Draper said. “This is my first time here, and honestly it’s something that I would like to do every year, and I’m sure that Ozzie and Malts feel the same way.”
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