Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry near fundraising goal
DERRY - The Sonshine Soup Kitchen is getting close to reaching its fundraising goal for the first phase of its building campaign.
Through donations and a matching grant, the soup kitchen is looking to raise $100,000 by the beginning of April to put a down payment on either a new location or an existing building it can renovate to suit its purposes.
Through a combination of individual donors and local churches and businesses, the soup kitchen hit the $85,000 mark last week.
Once the initial money is raised, it will be easier to apply for grants to outfit the new space, according to Linda German, chairman of the soup kitchen's board of directors.
"We've totally outgrown the existing facility," said German.
For almost a quarter-century, the Sonshine Soup Kitchen has been serving free, hot meals five days per week to those in need from the kitchen of the First Baptist Church on Crystal Avenue.
However, space and efficiency is at a premium for the soup kitchen staff, volunteers and the dozens of people it serves each day.
Although the kitchen is at the church, the soup kitchen rents out space for its offices and storage in a neighboring building. No matter what the weather is like, Executive Director Cynthia Dwyer and her staff and volunteers have to haul hand trucks filled with food and supplies for the day's meal to the church kitchen.
Dwyer also said the soup kitchen is limited in how much food it can store. Many of its food donations come in the weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and she said it can be hard to make room as the soup kitchen stocks up for the year.
In addition, it also provides a number of other services, including clothing for those in need.
Unfortunately, according to Dwyer, the soup kitchen has to limit what it can keep for free clothing donations because of a lack of space. That clothing closet is also located in the soup kitchen's main office, where volunteers and donations are coming in and out during the day.
The nonprofit has been looking at properties that are available to see how they stack up to what the soup kitchen needs, as well as looking at properties that meet the criteria that may not necessarily be available at the moment.
Possibly the biggest requirement of the new location is that it is within walking distance of where the kitchen now operates, Dwyer said.
"We are going to stay in Derry and in the downtown area," she said. "It's very important, because as many as 50 percent of the people walk here."
As the first phase of the fundraising efforts comes down to the wire, Dwyer said she is confident the Sonshine Soup Kitchen will reach its goal, but she added that they are still soliciting all the donations than can to reach that $100,000 goal comfortably.
"We very rarely stand out on the corner and say that we need help," said Dwyer. "So people take it seriously when we say we have a need."
Those who want to donate or find out more information about the Build to Feed fundraising effort can visit the charity's website at www.sonshinesoupkitchen.org.