DERRY — It was finally her day to help.
Twelve-year-old Dharma Paradis had waited a long time to be old enough to volunteer at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen.
Now, Dharma joins a long list of volunteers from community organizations, church groups and individuals who come to the soup kitchen at First Baptist Church to lend a hand. She is part of the St. Jude's church community in Londonderry.
"I thought it would be a good experience," Dharma said.
Sonshine has ministered to the community for 23 years, offering daily free meals in a friendly environment.
In addition to food, Sonshine also offers Bible study, personal care items and clothing.
Although First Baptist has been a successful site for the soup kitchen, supporters say it's now time to grow and find a new space.
Sonshine is embarking on a "Build to Feed" campaign to raise money to support a new location.
The drive is a 50-50-50 campaign. The group hopes to find 50 groups or individuals to raise or donate $1,000 each in 50 days to match another local grant by April 1.
With an average of 60 meals served five nights a week, space is getting tight. More and more people are coming through Sonshine's doors for meals and fellowship.
"We are trying to stay up with the demands," soup kitchen director Christine Fudala said.
There are many limitations at the current location, Fudala said, including only one restroom, no handicapped accessibility, not enough parking, limited refrigerator space, and no space to store food or clothing for the kitchen's other donation missions.
An ideal plan would be to find a new space within a half-mile of the current location, she said.
Diane Swinarski leads St. Jude's youth ministry and said coming to the soup kitchen is something she has enjoyed for about eight years.