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Soup kitchen, restaurant team up for holiday meal

A 20-year-old restaurant employee’s love for helping others resulted in a Thanksgiving dinner for more than 200 people at the Springfield Soup Kitchen on Thursday.

Jacob Rosales started volunteering at the Springfield Soup Kitchen about two months ago, after a man asked him for some cash and Rosales bought him a cheeseburger.

“He said he comes here. Ever since then I’ve been coming Monday and Wednesdays,” Rosales said.

After volunteering at the soup kitchen, Rosales wanted to donate some food himself and asked his boss at Olive Garden how much a pan of lasagna would cost.

“It’s not a typical request for an employee to ask for pan of lasagna, so I asked what it was for,” said Jason Jacobs, general manager at the Springfield Olive Garden. “He said he wanted to bring it to the soup kitchen to feed the people that came and in and I told him maybe we could see if we could do something more than eight pieces of lasagna.”

Jacobs then visited the soup kitchen and he told the owner he would like to provide Thanksgiving meals.

It made Rosales feel good that he and his employer were able to help, he said.

Fred Stegner runs the soup kitchen and said it isn’t usually open on Thanksgiving, so he was thankful for the donation.

“I’m so happy, tears of joy are coming from my heart. They are just pouring from my heart because I know how these people are suffering,” Stegner said. “I know the ones who sleep under the bridges. I know the ones who are sleeping in vans. I know the ones who are out in the cold. They look forward to come into a warm place and get the courtesy and respect they get today.”

Sarah Wheeler visits the soup kitchen on Monday and Wednesday nights with her sister and heard about the Thanksgiving dinner this week.

She didn’t do anything last year for Thanksgiving, she said, and without the soup kitchen, she would have had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and coffee on Thursday.

“We are fortunate this time to have something,” Wheeler said.

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