The sixth annual Soups of the World benefit for the Bridge Emergency Shelter caused quite a stir on Friday, Feb. 22 at Grace's Soup Kitchen located in St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. The charity event broke previous year records of attendance and donations.
This year the event raised a little under $4,500, about $900 more than last year.
Before the benefit was set to begin at 5 p.m., a line of about 30 people were already waiting with bowls and spoons to taste the five various delectable soups. By the end of the fundraiser a crowd of around 150 guests had either stopped in to eat or were hanging out for the dessert auction.
All of the soups were made by community volunteers with recipes from their own cookbooks or online. The five soups served were of Korean, Middle Eastern, Spanish, Italian and Irish cultures.
Christy Janiszewski, Americorps employee for the Bridge, was serving the Italian pasta soup that she made with M.B. McAfee, Bridge director, and fellow Americorps member, Kristen Tworek. Janiszewski began working at the Bridge in October 2012. This is the first year that Americorps members have been added to the roster of paid employees at the shelter. Janiszewski was happy to be serving at the benefit and was anticipating a large crowd.
"From what I have heard this has become a very beloved event in the community," she said. "It's great not only for the shelter but for people who want to help because it is an affordable dinner."
A variety of community members showed up to eat and purchase desserts and around 15 volunteers were serving soup and waiting on diners. Jerry Hart, a volunteer at Grace's Kitchen, has been participating in this event since it began. He called out orders to guests and servers as people piled in. Eventually, seating ran out, a couple more tables were added to the room and many were left standing against the walls.
"Originally the same soups that were being served in the kitchen were being served to the public," Hart explained. "As it has become more like a fundraising event the soups got more interesting and diverse. Of course the highlight is the dessert auction."
Montezuma County Commissioner Larry Don Suckla served as the dessert auctioneer calling out bids for cakes, brownies, cookies and cupcakes. The homemade desserts were a big hit with bidders going as high as $360.
One of the highest bids at $300 went to Don Lightenburger, owner of Holiday Inn Express, who bought a pass for homemade ice cream made by Chuck McAfee to be delivered anywhere at anytime.
"At least he (McAfee) knows where I live," Lightenburger said with a laugh.
Also making a generous contribution were the owners of Town and Country Furniture, Johnny Mozer and his son Ryan. They purchased four items at the dessert auction, three were sweets and a mystery prize box that was the highest paid item at $360. Their items totaled around $430.
"This is a record-breaking Soups of the World," said M.B. McAfee. "And a record-breaking dessert auction. I'm so amazed by everyone at the event and I can't thank them enough."