Nov. 24, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. - Joined by University officials and a host of volunteers, the Red Storm men's basketball team made its 14th-annual Thanksgiving trip to the St. John's Bread and Life Soup Kitchen on Wednesday, serving turkey dinners to 2,418 Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, area residents.
For the new-look St. John's team, staff and head coach Steve Lavin, it was a memorable first service trip to Bread and Life. Lavin and the 2010-11 Red Storm squad were forced to miss last year's annual visit as the squad was in the Great White North at the time, capturing the championship of the 2010 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.
Lavin and wife Mary Jarou's devotion to St. John's Bread and Life has been evident in Lavin's first two seasons on the Red Storm sidelines. The couple made a charitable contribution and pledge to the organization last fall, and was honored at the 14th Annual Johnny's Angel Awards Dinner last Wednesday, Nov. 16, before a crowd of more than 300 in the D'Angelo Center on campus.
"It is important that our team is reminded there are more vital elements to life than the game of basketball. Naturally, we are focused on building winning teams but St. John's is equally committed to teaching and instilling values that transcend sports," said Lavin. "Volunteering at Bread and Life is a great opportunity to step back and take a deep breath in the middle of the hectic basketball season to put the arena of competitive sports in it's proper light. Serving those in need of a meal and other essentials, like a winter coat or shoes, provides our student athletes with better context for the realities of poverty. This experience allows our team to extend the gift of grace and compassion through service. Our involvement with Bread and Life allows us to gain a real sense of the struggles that those in need face on a daily basis."
Lavin, his staff and team were joined by NBC 4's Bruce Beck and family, and the Red Storm men's basketball players and staff at the four-year-old, state-of-the-art 22,000 square foot Bread and Life facility that is the only venue in New York City that employs touch-screen technology to aid in the distribution of nourishment to its guests. The building opened in June 2008 at its new location on Lexington Ave. in Brooklyn, officially sponsored by St. John's University.
Rev. James Maher, C.M., STJ Executive Vice President for Mission and Student Services and a member of the Board of Directors of St. John's Bread and Life, Mary Pat Beirne of the Athletic Development unit, Jack Clark of St. John's Peter J. Tobin School of Business and Paula and Tori Migliore of STJ Campus Ministry participated in the annual community service event with the Red Storm.
"We've been coming here for 15 years at Thanksgiving and other times and our student-athletes do great work at Bread and Life," said Maher. "It is essential to who we are as a University in terms of service, particularly service to the poor. This is one great example of how St. John's has really embraced this organization."
In addition to the Red Storm basketball team's annual appearance at St. John's Bread and Life, the mobile soup kitchen, painted "basketball orange" and supported by Barclays and the Brooklyn Nets, served New York City residents on Wednesday morning.
Scenes from the day and Bruce Beck interviews from St. John's Bread and Life Soup Kitchen were reported on WNBC 4, WPIX 11, News 12 Bronx/Brooklyn and in the New York Post throughout Wednesday evening and on Thanksgiving Day.
St. John's Bread and Life