One student’s experience serving at The Love Kitchen

As students sit in the gym waiting for their team name to be called, Marcus Graham sits on the stage along with the rest of the group leaders.

They are all preparing for Johnson’s day of caring, also called K-15.

Matt Shears, president of the Student Government Association, tells the student body about K-15.

“This event has been going on for nine years now,” Sheers said. “This is the largest attendance for K-15 we have ever had.”

An event that was started just after the 9/11 attacks to help serve the community, has now reached a new height of attendance at Johnson.

Graham has been proudly serving his time in the SGA for all four years of his college career. A third time leader of a K-15 group, he  and five other students spent the day at The Love Kitchen.

The Love Kitchen has been serving the community around it for 15 years, and seeks to help the low income families around Knoxville.

Located next to the AME Mount Zion Church, the students found the sweet smell of lamb chops lofting through a gated parking lot.

The Love Kitchen Manager sat outside on a smoke break while the rest of the people were inside hard at work.

Several men and women sat inside in old, hole-ridden and dirty clothing, watching the news on a flat screen television.

All of the volunteers headed inside to prepare for the dinner they would be serving five hours later.

Marcus Graham wore a white plastic apron while standing in front of a steel table.

On his left side he had a bucket of lamb chops, grabbing each one and slicing away any fat that might be on it, then placing the cut meat on a pan.

As he chopped the meat, Graham focused on who he would be helping.

“This work may be tedious, minuteness and boring, but in the long run I know how much this will be helping hundreds of people,” Graham said as he continued cutting the food. “These people may not be able to buy a hot meal tonight and that’s why we are here.”

Donna Karns, the head kitchen assistant at the Love Kitchen, takes the cut meat, seasons it and cooks it. She also prepares the side dishes of potatoes.

Just on the other side of the stove, two women walked up and down another steel table placing chicken, green peas and macaroni salad in  plastic takeout boxes.

The other volunteers switched between jobs that included pulling cold dish food from the freezer, washing dishes and defrosting frozen foods.

“I was looking for a place to fit in again,” Karns said of working at The Love Kitchen. “A place I can call home.”

She loves her job because she gets to help the people in her community.

She said she has finally found a place that she loves to work.

The Love Kitchen serves families with low income. Her favorite part of the job is preparing the food and finding the recipes to serve.

Every position is vital to the operation of the kitchen, including the meat cutter, the food packers and especially the dish washer. Graham may have been just one man doing one job, but his work helped hundreds of people.

“I realize that I complain about being hungry at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday and I go to Taco Bell and essentially have a third meal and the people not far from me haven’t even had a first meal,” he said. “I can use that money to help feed someone and even get an opportunity to make a new friend and even share the gospel.”

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