By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — If they build it, more may come.
The Sonshine Soup Kitchen’s longtime community mission to feed those in need is in need of help. The soup kitchen is searching for a new space to support its growing ministry in the Derry area.
Sonshine’s “Build to Feed” campaign is well underway to raise money to help find a new, larger location.
The drive is a 50/50/50 campaign to find 50 groups or individuals to raise or donate $1,000 in 50 days to support the expansion project.
Another local donor has pledged $50,000 toward the cause if the soup kitchen can raise $50,000 by April 1.
Right now, about $20,000 in addition to the matching grant is pledged for Phase I of the project.
A sign outside the soup kitchen at First Baptist Church at 44 East Broadway shows the campaign’s progress.
The community has been very generous.
“It’s been incredible,” soup kitchen director Christine Fudala said. “It’s very exciting, but one step at a time.”
A handmade church poster shows the progress with small bricks representing $1,000 donations or more.
Donations so far have come from local Rotarians, churches, individuals and even the smallest of givers.
“We even have little kids coming in with their money,” Fudala said. “A second-grader came in and gave us his birthday money.”
Local businesses are stepping up to support the soup kitchen’s work — something that has been a fixture in the community for 23 years, offering daily free meals in a friendly environment.
Businesses like Dollar Tree and its customers at Derry Meadows supports the soup kitchen with paper products, food and personal care items.
The soup kitchen also offers clothing and other help in addition to its meals.
With a strong need to grow, soup kitchen building committee members are searching for that perfect spot they hope will be within a half-mile radius of the current location. The space now has only one restroom, no handicapped accessibility and not enough parking for the many people who come by on a daily basis.
In 2012, the soup kitchen served 10,169 meals with an average of 60 served per day.
Add in the more than 8,000 hours of volunteer time and it’s a community service that joins many groups together to help others.
Angeliek Devine helps in the soup kitchen office several hours a week. The 15-year-old is a sophomore at Pinkerton Academy and not only gains valuable community service time, but important life skills.
“I take inventory, I stock the shelves,” she said. “I like being here and I like helping people.”
Joanne Packard is a longtime Sonshine volunteer and said there is just not enough room at the inn.
“The mission is growing and we have run out of room,” she said.
Anyone wishing to support Sonshine’s “Build to Feed” campaign can find out more at sonshinesoupkitchen.com.