The demolition of a parish rectory did not stop a dedicated group at St. Anthony’s Parish in Davenport, IA from serving meals to the hungry five days a week. When they were left without a location to operate from, McAnthony Window simply moved into the parish garage.
The window is temporarily operating out of the garage until the parish’s new hall is completed next spring. Anywhere from 125-175 people are served a sandwich, soup, treat and coffee Monday through Friday from 9-11 a.m. at McAnthony Window.
For years, it had been located in the St. Anthony rectory. Volunteers made sandwiches and soup in the kitchen and served the food from a window.
Fr. Jack Gallagher, St. Anthony’s pastor, was adamant that the service continue, even after the rectory was demolished to make room for the new parish hall. There had been talk among some people to discontinue the meal service during construction.
Dennis Flaherty, the parish’s business manager, said the mission to serve the poor would not stop. The parish decided the old rectory garage would remain standing during construction so McAnthony Window could operate on the parish campus.
Last month, the garage door was sealed, the building cleaned out, new lighting, a door for volunteers’ use and a sliding window installed and an air conditioning unit added. Heating will be available during cooler weather, Flaherty said. “This has been a labor of love,” he noted.
Anne Morey, McAnthony Window supervisor, said the transition went well — which included moving three refrigerators, a freezer, cabinets and countertops to the garage.
It has about the same amount of space as in the rectory, but items are easier to access, she said. The temporary site has been approved by the Scott County Health Department.
Fifteen percent of the weekend collection from St. Anthony Parish goes to the Care and Share program, which includes funding for McAnthony Window, Flaherty said. Financial and food donations from businesses and individuals also help support the window.
Flaherty said schools and scout troops sometimes make sandwiches and have a teacher, coach or leader deliver the food.
“I think the kids are more humble when they realize how this benefits others,” Flaherty said.
If a delivery includes too many loaves of bread or sweets for McAnthony Window to use, those items are donated to Café on Vine and other organizations that serve hungry people.
The number of people served at McAnthony Window has increased slightly in the past year, Morey said, particularly during the end of the month when money is tight.
During warm weather, cookouts are usually planned for the last Friday of the month. Care and Share pays for some of the cookouts while individual donors pay for others.
“Our window and other service organizations are always looking for volunteers,” Flaherty said. “Consider turning off your TV and help others — wherever that might be.”
Printed with permission from The Catholic Messenger, newspaper of the diocese of Davenport, Iowa.