12/27/09 — Charity: Need will still exist after the holidays

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Charity: Need will still exist after the holidays

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on December 27, 2009 1:50 AM

Two trends at the Goldsboro Community Soup Kitchen: More clients to feed and more court-ordered volunteers to help out, the kitchen's director says.

"Right now I've got 15 to 20 (court-ordered) volunteers on my lists, to come in and do community service," kitchen Director Doricia Benton said, a number that's higher than average.

Court-ordered folks aren't the only ones who show up to help with the Soup Kitchen, which has been averaging 107 meals served per day.

Others who help with the task of feeding the clientele include Wayne Christian School of the Patetown community and students from Faith Christian Academy, among other schools.

Many of them have senior projects and Boy Scout badges they are working on. Still others simply perform the community service because they feel it's worthwhile, Ms. Benton said.

The extra help has been necessary -- on Thanksgiving, the kitchen served 175 meals.

"That's a record high," Ms. Benton said of the kitchen, which opened for business on Dec. 15, 1980, and has served some 750,000 meals to date.

The average number is also much higher than last year's average -- the kitchen was seeing about 85 clients a day at the same time last year, Ms. Benton said.

The administration and workers at the Goldsboro Community Soup Kitchen think a soured economy and lost jobs have led to the increased demand for the Soup Kitchen's services.

Despite an average clientele count that seems to rise with each passing month, the Soup Kitchen was prepared to serve its annual Christmas meal, Ms. Benton said.

A man named Randy Gray donated 12 turkeys and six hams, which should be enough for "cooking coordinator" Susan Britt to prepare a Christmas meal.

"That just leaves the trimmings that go with the turkey and the ham," Ms. Benton said.

Those trimmings included creamed potatoes, two vegetables, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Spring Creek High School also has prepared between 100 and 130 "goody bags," filled with candy and fruit for soup kitchen visitors to take home.

Wayne Christian School's fourth-graders also did "hygiene bags," which contained items like a toothbrush, shaving cream, a razor and soap, among other things, Ms. Benton said.

Others, like First Baptist Church of South John Street, brought in another necessity.

"They brought in 100 sets of towels with the washcloths, probably about a month ago

Although Christmas might be finished, the need is still great around the community.

Ms. Benton said she and other staff have been trying to serve people who cannot make the trip to the kitchen, making home deliveries.

"I know there's a lot of people out there struggling. The dads are being laid off and stuff like that.

"As a matter of fact, when you actually go out in the field and see it, as opposed to them coming to see you, it breaks your heart, and at the same time you feel good -- that you're reaching out and helping this person, and making this Christmas brighter."

The kitchen's hours are between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., but there are nearly always a few people who stroll up to the doors late, Ms. Benton said.

Like last Friday, around 2 p.m., when the chairs had already been put up, and people were mopping the floors.

A man came up.

"He looked so weary," Ms. Benton said. "I told him, like, sure, you're never too late. If we're there, we're going to prepare them something."

After the man came in, he sat down and started crying.

"It's cold outside, and he's hungry," Ms. Benton said. "I don't know if he needed money in particular at the moment. I think it was just this life itself, the struggles."

The staff saw he didn't have gloves on, and found out the man wasn't wearing his because they were cold.

The gloves were put in a clothes dryer, and someone else went to fetch the man some thicker gloves.

"Kind of like skiing gloves, the kind that are real thick," Ms. Benton said.

The man continued to cry.

"He said, 'Jesus is coming back soon, isn't he?' I told him I didn't know. You know, I truly believe, that we're all here to help each other, in one way or another, and ... where I sit every day, I see so many different things.

"To show concern for one another, to show compassion for one another, it does make a difference. So he ate, and as a matter of fact, he stood up and started singing Christmas carols.

"Everyone was touched. To have a heart, to see the human side of it, you'd have to be touched."

The Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro is located at 112 W. Oak St., and donations can be arranged by calling 731-3939.