10/16/11 — Cook-off is a fundraiser for Community Soup Kitchen

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Cook-off is a fundraiser for Community Soup Kitchen

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on October 16, 2011 1:50 AM

When hundreds of tasters are sampling the chilis of more than a dozen teams in the Community Soup Kitchen Really Chili Challenge on Saturday, they will be participating in that organization's single biggest fundraiser of the year.

The exposure and donations are appreciated, Director Doricia Benton said, but the one day of awareness doesn't accurately show what an impact the Soup Kitchen has on the community throughout the year.

"Our mission is six days a week, 52 weeks a year," she said. "There is a need all year round."

Last year the kitchen distributed 33,000 hot, nutritious meals to those in need, she said, and this year, the kitchen is on pace for 35,000 to 40,000 meals, with between 100 and 150 given out each day.

Mrs. Benton credited the poor economy and resulting job losses with the increase.

"People are in a transitional period from being displaced. In the last six months I have seen and spoke to people who are just crying, saying, 'I don't know what to do, I'm about to get kicked out,'" she said, saying lost jobs are requiring people to adapt to less than stellar financial situations. "There's just a continual flow of displaced individuals, displaced families."

And the help doesn't only come in the form of food, she said.

The Angel Closet within the building is stocked with shirts, pants, shoes, sweaters and coats for those in need, and a hygiene area provides everything from deodorant to toothpaste. Dr. Bruce Rogers is also at the kitchen on Tuesdays to provide education and clinical care.

But while the cook-off doesn't completely showcase how much the Soup Kitchen means to Goldsboro, Mrs. Benton said that keeping it in people's thoughts is one way to increase awareness of the services provided there and the continued need for help.

"It's a matter of keeping everyone aware of the needs of the Soup Kitchen," she said. "It's really about people helping people. Wayne County embraces us as far as funding and it's wonderful that we can open the door every day."

In its decades of service to the community -- the organization will celebrate 31 years since its founding on Dec. 15 -- the Soup Kitchen has received an outpouring of support from those in and around Wayne County.

"We're very blessed," she said of her volunteer roster. "We're booked through June 2012 and placing people beyond that, even to October of next year."