By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It went down to the wire for a local ministry to meet its match.
But the Sonshine Soup Kitchen’s Build to Feed campaign met its goal of raising $50,000, thanks to the support and donations from community organizations, businesses and individuals.
The final donation came on April 13 at 5:01 p.m., according to soup kitchen officials, completing Phase I of the campaign.
A sign outside First Baptist Church at 44 East Broadway shows the measure of success for the soup kitchen, serving the community for 23 years.
“Almost 200 groups and individuals raised $50,000 in 50 days to match a grant of $50,000,” Sonshine kitchen director Christine Fudala said. “The smallest gift was $5, the largest was $2,000.”
Top honors in the Build to Feed campaign are shared by First Parish Church, which gave $2,570; Calvary Bible Church and Broadway Chiropractic each donated $2,000.
All donations, no matter how much, were greatly appreciated.
“Every gift given contributed to this community efforts,” Fudala said. “That shows what the Greater Derry communities are made of.”
The next step is to find a new location to help the soup kitchen’s mission grow. Officials say the perfect spot would be within a half-mile radius of the current location.
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church was one of the earliest in town to give Sonshine its $1,000 commitment to support Build to Feed.
The church regularly sends a team to the soup kitchen to help prepare and serve meals to guests. Members also donate food on a weekly basis to support the community food pantry at First Baptist Church.
St. Luke’s member Mike Corey said supporting a mission like Sonshine is what the church’s life in this town is all about.
“The work of the soup kitchen and food pantry are extraordinarily important. Government support is nowhere near enough to keep some folks from hunger,” he said. “The Sonshine Soup Kitchen has become an over-stretched safety net for far too many. I applaud their efforts and hope they find the perfect new location.”
Volunteers are out in force every day to bring food and fellowship to those in need. The soup kitchen serves an average of 60 meals per day. Last year, more than 15,000 meals were served.
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.
Addison Wood, 18, is part of the volunteer network and said the soup kitchen is a special place. He planned and created a new pantry space to store nonperishable food in the adjoining office and storage location.
Other volunteers pitch in on a regular basis.
Brian Gallagher said he likes helping people and making a difference.
“I like connecting with people in a meaningful way,” he said. “It’s more than just helping people. It’s the community we build here.”
Seth Abbott has come to the kitchen as part of the Windham Bible Church volunteer team the second Friday of every month.
“God’s been good to me,” he said. “I just want to give back.”
In addition to providing meals, the soup kitchen offers young members of the community a chance to earn volunteer and community service hours. It also has a clothing ministry.
Donations of food and clothing are always welcome at 4 Crystal Ave. People can drop off donations from 1 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 437-2833.