Each February, dozens of area businesses and restaurants – and hundreds of residents – rally behind the Salvation Army Woman’s Auxiliary to help raise money.
The Cabarrus-area club’s 9th annual Souper Bowl & Bake Sale will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 19 at Forest Hill United Methodist Church in Concord. For the last two years, all the bake sale items sold out. And in 2012, the group matched its recording-breaking amount raised in 2011, $46,000.
The auxiliary’s signature fundraiser usually draws so many people that a line extends out the door. For $10, patrons get two bowls of their choice of soup, a cookie and a beverage.
By noon, it’s not uncommon for the church’s parking lot to be overflowing. Inside, about 15 tables are full of community and business leaders, government officials and longtime residents.
“We open the doors at 11, and people just start pouring in,” said 10-year auxiliary member Carolyn Carpenter. “It truly has become an event everyone wants to come to, and everybody always looks forward to it. I think if we tried to stop it, we would get a lot of complaints.”
Last year the group printed more than 500 tickets and had about 70 gallons of soup donated by 30 Cabarrus-area restaurants and businesses, from corporate-run chains like The Olive Garden to the locally-owned Wayside Family Restaurant.
This year, TJ’s Diner, a relatively new restaurant in The Depot at Gibson Mill on McGill Avenue, is a first-time donor.
“That’s a perfect example,” Carpenter said. “These restaurants give us soup, and that allows the community to learn about them and other area businesses while sampling their products.”
Concord police and firefighters volunteer to serve the steaming soup – which could range from potato, vegetable and taco soup to shrimp bisque, chili and pasta fazool. Up to 50 volunteers contribute to the effort throughout the day.
The money raised supports ministries of The Salvation Army and The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary. Roughly 83 cents of every dollar donated gets allocated to services that assist residents with job-training and other enrichment-type programs. One-hundred percent of the Souperbowl proceeds will be donated locally.
Carpenter said the fundraiser’s money will get distributed throughout Cabarrus and Stanly counties to help residents pay for prescription medications, food, utilities or rent. It also helps provide toys for children around Christmas, as well as educational scholarships, summer camps and clothing.
The Salvation Army has been active in North and South Carolina since the 1800s. Today, there are more than 50 “commands” around North and South Carolina.
The Concord command, charted in 1991, has about 125 active members ranging in ages from 30s to 90s. The oldest is 96.
Carolyn Tucker and her husband, Bob, founded Shoe Show Inc. in Kannapolis in 1960. The company has been a sponsor of the Souper Bowl event since 2003, providing seed money and matching donations made by the auxiliary members.
“It is a such a worthy organization,” said Tucker. “Offering aid to the unfortunate is what they have done since 1879. During disasters they are among the first to offer assistance, and they do it all while offering spiritual assistance as well.”
Pat Waters, the club’s social chairman and a charter member, said the event’s payoff isn’t when they tally the amount of money raised, but witnessing firsthand how donations affect area families.
“The special time happens around Christmas, when all the families come and get toys for their children,” said Waters. “What we’re doing really makes a difference. That’s what it’s all about.”
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