Tomato Soup Day

By: Sandra Lee

On Saturday, May 3rd, I volunteered at the Salvation Army Vancouver’s Harbour Light Soup Kitchen for the first time, and the experience was not what I expected. With the help of Rover Scouts of the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group and Venturer Scouts from the 138th East Vancouver Scout Group and 69th Knights of Kensington Scout Group, we gave back to the local community by doing a good turn and lending a helping hand to the Soup Kitchen service team. Looking back, the most memorable part of it was when the cafeteria was buzzing and there was a line of guests to serve. I could see everyone working in the kitchen concentrated with a bit of happy panic.


I was stationed with my back towards the kitchen, facing all the guests and fellow volunteers. My job was simple. I had to place a sandwich on a dish and hand it to the person next to me, so I had some time to notice everyone around. As well, since I’m a fairly short person, I was only able to see the people in the front row, but that was enough. What I saw was amazing.


Everyone working in the kitchen was extremely enthusiastic. The atmosphere was electric, with each person drawing energy from one another. While plating the food trays, I remember almost burning myself at least a dozen times from handling the steaming hot dishes, but it was great because everyone in the assembly line could relate and we all laughed about it. Behind me, I could hear the dish washers and chefs singing sea shanties! I remember an ecstatic volunteer who was lightly dancing as he was placing the dishes in order. It was adorable, and it kept everyone smiling. I wasn’t expecting such awesome and organized team work amongst all the volunteers. It seemed like everyone really enjoyed their time here, and it felt like volunteering at the Soup Kitchen wasn’t considered work at all.


After about 25 minutes into the dinner, there was brief moment of pause as the line up outside was starting to diminish. This was my chance to see the people who we were serving. I remember this man who was third from the right side corner of the table. He was an older gentleman dressed in his thick coat and jeans. As the food was placed in front of him, he rubbed his hands together and just stared at the plate. You could see that he had a subtle, lopsided grin. After a couple seconds, he picked up his bowl of tomato soup, took a sniff, and completed his smile. This was the most gratifying part of my time at the Soup Kitchen and I felt super warm and fuzzy inside.

As cliché as it is, a smile goes a long way, so why not take an hour out of your day to place sandwiches on a plate?


One Response to “Tomato Soup Day

  • Mostafa
    4 years ago

    Thanks Sandra for this touching story of your experience on the Soup Kitchen
    It revived and brought back my great memories on that day.

    Similarly for me, it was my first time volunteering at a Soup Kitchen, and I really value those moments. In fact, during that day and afterwards, I learned/reflected on many things, such as:
    ~ not to ever-judge people based on how poor or shabby they look; because deep down, they all have a kind heart, and a grateful soul
    ~ to be open to learn something from each and every one
    ~ to focus on people’s positivity and strengths
    ~ to know that any positive change starts from within
    ~ any help/contribution is invaluable regardless of its size/monetary value

    I believe that opportunities like this allow us to truly value our lives, and learn to be better citizens.

    Thanks again for your write-up. Also many thanks to the 180th Pacific Coast Scout Group for organizing this volunteering opportunity at the Salvation Army Vancouver’s Harbour Light Soup Kitchen.

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