•  Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Watervliet noted a story from its food pantry: "One week, a food pantry volunteer asked the clients if any of them had children with birthdays that week. An elderly gentleman shared that he had a birthday that week, but didn't really need a birthday bag. Our volunteer insisted, and he took a bag home.

"Afterward, he told her what happened as a result: He mentioned the bag to his daughter and she offered to come over and make the birthday cake for him. They chatted while the cake was in the oven and shared some of the cake together. He said the cake-baking brought back memories of his wife: He hadn't enjoyed the smell of something baking since his wife died. Even the crayons and coloring book were a bonus. They gave him something to do, helped fill the time and he found he really enjoyed it.

"We thought we were putting together the birthday bags for children, but God showed us His vision, love and compassion are much greater than anything we could ever imagine," the bulletin concluded.

•  An old folktale, "Stone Soup," describes hungry strangers convincing the residents of a small town to each share one ingredient that, combined, make a pot of soup everyone enjoys. A few years ago, Immaculate Conception parish in Hoosick Falls founded its own "Stone Soup Group," asking parishioners to make soup to distribute to the local food pantry and two residences for seniors.

The parish rectory keeps containers on hand that can be given out. Rev. Thomas Zelker, pastor, told The Evangelist the ministry is growing slowly, but "it's a good idea" and something anyone can do in a home kitchen. Turkey, chicken, tomato and vegetable soups are the most popular.

•  St. Vincent's parish in Cobleskill plans an "Advent Evening of Reflection with Bishop Emeritus Howard J. Hubbard" Dec. 15, 7 p.m.; admission is a non-perishable food item for people in need. (KB)