By Sharyn Cornelius

Karah Harbuck stands on a step stool to stir one of the giant pots of chili she and her friends made to distribute to homeless people later in the day

Members of local 4-H clubs have formed a mobile soup kitchen to provide a hot lunch for homeless people one day a month.  On Monday, Jan. 17, a school holiday, three members of the Twin Palms and Cow Creek clubs—Dani Plake, Karah Harbuck, and Ruth Bailey–gathered in the Millville kitchen of Adrienne Hulst, Cow Creek 4-H community leader, to cook up a batch of chili and bake cornbread muffins.  They will also hand out bottled water and canned peaches.

Hulst, who is also the goat project leader, had to help one of her young charges with a goat-birthing emergency that morning, but she left the young cooks under the capable supervision of her daughter Sierra, Twin Palms community leader Lynette Plake,  and mothers Heather Dyer and Jennifer Collins.

As the girls poured cornbread batter into muffin cups and stirred the chili, they talked about what it meant to them to be able to help the homeless and what they had learned from the experience.

Dani Plake said her earlier experiences with the 4-H mobile soup kitchen made her want to do more to help the less fortunate.  “I didn’t even mind getting up early today because I enjoy this so much,” she said.  “And you learn to appreciate what you have when you see a guy cry because you gave him a bowl of soup.”

Karah Harbuck said that even though seeing the homeless people makes her sad, the experience has made her realize “how much regular people take for granted in life.”

Ruth Bailey, who is participating in the mobile soup kitchen for the first time, said she is looking forward to delivering the food to the homeless.  “I think it will be fun to help people in need,” she said.

The food the 4-H members prepare each month is paid for by a grant from the Dean Legacy Memorial Service Learning Grant administered by the state 4-H office.  Lynette Plake said that only five such grants are awarded each year and praised Hulst for her initiative in gaining one of the five.  Hulst said in an earlier email that the 4-H clubs “hope to eventually network with other groups in the area to make a larger impact.”