Two weeks each year, Valero Ardmore Refinery volunteers cook, host and serve meals for needy families and the homeless at the Ardmore Soup Kitchen, downtown in the Oklahoma community. 

Throughout each of those weeks, about 40 to 50 refinery employees, family members and friends provide approximately 275 to 450 meals and donate desserts. It has become one of the plant’s most valued volunteer events. 

For about 10 years, the nonprofit Ardmore Soup Kitchen has consolidated efforts of area businesses, churches and other nonprofits to serve meals to those in need. It is run solely on donations and through volunteers. 

A different business, church or civic group is assigned on a weekly basis, and each week of the year is filled. 

The support reflects the generosity of Ardmore, and of the Valero refinery, which annually contributes more than half of the funds raised for the local United Way chapter, said Gino Silvas, Manager-Supply Chain Execution at the refinery and a volunteer who helps coordinate Valero’s soup kitchen effort. 

He said many of those helped by agencies supported by United Way also frequent the soup kitchen. 

“We probably feed every night here at this soup kitchen anywhere from 40 to 60 individuals who come in,” Silvas said. “Many of these individuals may live in a home but can’t afford to eat, and some are homeless and don’t live in a shelter. Ardmore is a very giving community.”