Thanksgiving has come and gone, but most of those served Thursday by the Carroll County Soup Kitchen will continue to be in need of daily meals.
To help them, the soup kitchen plans to work through the holiday season to provide the hungry with a hot meal, and the kitchen is getting some help.
"Local restaurants will prepare meals the last Monday and Thursday in November, and seven days in December," said Sue McBrayer, a volunteer coordinator and secretary of the soup kitchen's board of directors. “The holidays are when we are slammed with volunteers but really we need volunteers year-round.”
McBrayer has worked with the soup kitchen for 14 years. She volunteers her time to help others because she believes people are here to help others.
“There are many ways to help others, not just during the holidays,” she said. “Of course, the holidays are the only time when some people can volunteer their time but it still makes a difference in the lives that need help.”
The Carroll County Soup Kitchen, McBrayer said, receives numerous volunteers on Thanksgiving Day. On Thursday, chef Josh McCorsley, who owns Lulu’s Deli at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton, pitched in to prepare a Thanksgiving meal.
“When we have our community help each other, I know those who are receiving help are very grateful,” McBrayer said. “Most of those who come in are on a regular basis or semi-regular basis. They receive a hot meal but also can take a meal home with them. They are thankful also because of the fellowship that the soup kitchen provides. With the soup kitchen they get to sit down with others and talk.”
Those in need receive a hot meal every Monday and Thursday. On those days they also can participate in Bingo and have a good time.
“During the last full week of the month, Monday through Friday, we will send home 225 to 250 bags of food each day,” McBrayer said. “We used to close in December, but people were in need of food, so the local restaurants prepare the food. You put a need out there, and this community meets it.”
Carroll County Soup Kitchen Director and Vice President of Operations Bobbye Jean Warford said that with over 20 years of service to the kitchen, her reward all along has been helping others.
“To see people in need receive the help they need makes all the hard work worth it,” she said. “None of the volunteers are paid -- we are all volunteers. When I go around and talk to different agencies, I say the pay is not very high but the pay you receive is in your heart.”
With school out during the holidays, Warford said the kitchen is overrun by volunteers -- not that that is a bad thing.
“It is wonderful to have so many volunteers that I work harder to give them a task,” Warford said. “I put those volunteers to work so that they feel that their time is valuable and we want them to have a good time so that they come back. Some tasks are simple, such as filling up the salt and pepper or ketchup bottles, but every little bit helps.”
With hot meals served at the front of the soup k itchen, more work is being taken care of out back, thanks to Nick Ware.
“We are overrun with bread as you can tell,” said Ware while in the soup kitchen's loading and unloading garage, which was filled with pallets of store bread. “We have a local distributor that donates all the returned bread to the soup kitchen. There is so much of it.”
The bread the soup kitchen receives is day-old bread from local stores.
“Technically, the bread is not a day old because it comes in with three to four days before the expiration date,” said Ware. “We work fast though to give the bread to those who need it and they can even put it in their fridge or freezer to last longer.”
With more bread than the kitchen can use, other groups come in to take the excess off their hands.
“We coordinate with eight to 10 other agencies in the area, and we supply them with bread,” said Ware. “It is a huge blessing for us. We make a thousand peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and most of the white bread we receive goes to that, but there are other breads such as hot dog buns and bagels, and we give to those who need to eat.”
The soup kitchen donates to the Women's Emergency Shelter as well as the men's shelter.
“We try to distribute it wherever we can, but some of the bread will go as far as Heard, Haralson County in Georgia, and even Ranburne County in Alabama,” said Ware. “We try to get it before it molds and give to those who could use it while it is still good.”
Ware tells those that when the bread is about to go bad, they can offer it to a neighbor who may eat it right away or even feed the bread to the birds.
“If it begins to go bad, give it to the birds or horses and pig,” said Ware. “Whatever it takes to use the bread before it goes bad.”
The soup kitchen is excited to see what variety of food that the local chefs will be making during the holiday season.
“We are excited because the food will be different as well as the volunteers,” said McBrayer. “ We will be opened the first Monday and Thursday of December, then the 11 through 15 of December. If a group wishes to volunteer, they need to give a two weeks head up. We can only take group volunteers the last full week out of the month."
Those interested in volunteering can email email@example.com.