St. Matthew students treated to lunch at 'Mel's Diner'
Hunger outreach ministry thankful for donations
CHARLOTTE — Duke Oxford has been feeding the hungry in the Queen City for the past 11 years, going out every Saturday and Sunday morning looking for people who have nothing to eat and have slipped through the cracks of governmental assistance. Week in and week out, he loads up his own personal vehicle with fresh food and beverages, going out in search of people who are most in need.
Oxford, a parishioner at St. Matthew Church who is extremely humble about his efforts to combat hunger, founded a non-denominational outreach ministry in conjunction with St. Matthew Church in Charlotte. Since then, he and a group of five men have converted an old bread truck into a diner on wheels, lovingly calling it "Ms. Daisy." They named the outreach ministry "Mel's Diner" after the TV show.
Mel's Diner now serves more than 600 children and adults in the community every weekend. The men get tips from the Missionaries of Charity in Charlotte on where to go to find people who might need help.
"The ministry grew from a group of swim parents, 10 of us, who had a party with 'Mel's Diner' as a theme," said Oxford. "And when we came back together for the Superbowl, I thought it was time that I donated some of my time because I never did. We came up with Mel's Diner and I used to take my truck and drive around and pick up the nuns for two years every Wednesday, and I'd drive to the 10 houses to pick up different parts of the meal."
Over the years several people and stores have helped contribute donations to keep the ministry afloat.
The ministry is now supported in part by St. Matthew Church, students at Omni Montessori School in south Charlotte and more than 35 volunteers who take turns preparing and providing food weekly to support the diner.
Recently, the fifth-grade students at St. Matthew School spent four weeks collecting food and financial donations to assist Mel's Diner in its efforts to provide fresh and homemade meals every weekend to those suffering from hunger.
On May 18, the students were invited to a lunch held in the St. Matthew Church parking lot, right alongside the Mel's Diner food truck. The lunch was held in their honor in thanksgiving for their efforts to assist the ministry.
At that time, the fifth-graders presented Oxford and Mel's Diner with a tent, which will provide a much-needed addition to the mobile diner during the long hot days of summer and protection from the rain, wind and cold throughout the year.
The students also presented Mel's Diner with a monetary donation to assist with supplies during the summer.
"The children have provided hundreds of bags of apples, oranges, just as many cases of water and juice boxes to support the ministry, and enough paper supplies to last until Christmas!" said Oxford. "The enthusiasm and support of these students has been overwhelming."
St. Matthew fifth-graders Annie Corser and Tara Fitzpatrick shared their thoughts on helping those most in need, especially children their age who are facing hunger.
"We collected money for the tent so more people can be served," said Corser. "It's been really fun to do. It's been a great experience."
Tara Fitzpatrick agreed. "It's been nice because we know we've been helping people who need it. It gives me a good feeling, especially to help people my age."
To learn more about Mel's Diner, go to www.mels-diner.com or contact Duke Oxford at 704-904-8968.
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy