By Eugene Buglewicz
OXFORD – On Saturday, April 18, at 10:45 sharp, two cars and two pick-up trucks pulled up to the loading dock of Baptist Memorial Hospital North in Oxford, Mississippi. They were filled with hot aluminum trays full of fried catfish and french fries, hush puppies and cole slaw together with some boxed and other home-made cookies prepared by parishioners from St. John the Evangelist parish. There was enough food to provide lunch to approximately 200 staff at the hospital.
The idea for lunch came from Father Joe Tonos, pastor of St. John the Evangelist. Father Joe had seen how other organizations had provided meals to first responders, and thought the excess food would certainly be welcomed by the hospital staff.
Father Joe contacted Basil Richmond, Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus Council 10901, and asked if it would be possible for the Knights to prepare the meal with the left-over food to show our appreciation for the staff efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Richmond contacted Peyton Warrington from Baptist Hospital and arranged for the date, Saturday, April 18 at 10:45 a.m. sharp.
Richmond then recruited six Knights to assist with the preparation of the meal, while a dessert of cookies, both homemade and boxed, was coordinated by Stacy Raspoe, a parishioner of St. John.
Starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 18, it was busy at St. John’s as the meal was being readied for delivery at 10:30 a.m. Catfish cookers, Richmond, Drew Dixon and Kaleel Rahaim breaded and fried fish while George Read made french fries from 80 pounds of whole potatoes. Lynn Mead prepared the hush puppies while Dave Ray and Gene Buglewicz acted as runners between the fryers and kitchen. In the kitchen, the cooked food was covered and placed in warmers and ovens.
All food and condiments were prepared by 10 a.m., then loaded into two cars and two pick-ups for transport to the hospital at 10:15 a.m.. The hospital crew was waiting at the loading dock with insulated trays and loaded the aluminum pans, cookies and condiments including tarter sauce and ketchup.
For the Knights, the project was on-time and completed at 10:45 a.m. For the over 200 hospital employees, they enjoyed the catfish meal on their lunch breaks around the noon hour. Although the Knights could not personally deliver the catfish to the hospital staff, and had to leave the food with the hospital employees at the loading dock, the Knights felt their labor was the best sign of appreciation they could provide to each of the dedicated hospital employees from their neighbors at St. John the Evangelist Church.
(Gene Buglewicz is a member of St. John parish in Oxford.)