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Miriam's Kitchen: Beat the 'shutdown blues' by volunteering

Saturday - 10/5/2013, 8:27am  ET

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John Murphy of Miriam's Kitchen says they are looking for volunteers Monday to help make hot sauce. The group is suggesting furloughed workers may want to volunteer. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON - Furloughed federal workers likely won't report to work Monday. But they could head into town to volunteer: Miriam's Kitchen needs help making hot sauce.

"We're going to be taking all the peppers and hot chilies that we get donated from the Farmers Market over the weekend and make it into hot sauce for our guests," says John Murphy, director of kitchen operations for Miriam's Kitchen.

Miriam's Kitchen is a social-service organization that "believes we can end chronic homelessness through a shared sense of dignity, belonging, and change," says Murphy. Volunteers can get something out of going to the kitchen too.

Furloughed federal workers are in a situation where "they might feel isolated from their community, from their support networks, and maybe in some cases from their sense of purpose. And it's important to remember that our guests potentially feel that way every single day," says director of communications Tom Murphy.

Volunteers can be a part of a larger mission to address social needs in their community, Tom Murphy says.

"Homelessness is a community crisis. It demands a community response," he says.

Miriam's Kitchen feeds between 250 and 300 homeless people a day and offers them case management services. And after Monday's mass hot sauce endeavor, that food should be a bit more interesting.

"We use a different variety of chilies to have a balance of flavors so it's not too spicy, it's not too sweet," says John Murphy. Volunteers will help with everything from chopping and seeding the peppers to reducing it down with vinegar.

Murphy will not reveal, however, "a few secret ingredients," he says jokingly.

No special skills are needed to participate. Just be sure to wear closed-toe shoes.

Miriam's Kitchen is near the Foggy Bottom Metro Station, in the basement of Western Presbyterian Church at 24th and G streets Northwest.

Volunteers for hot sauce duty are needed Monday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering should e-mail Tom Murphy.

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