By JEN CARDINES
Pasta fagioli? Minestrone? One of the many chowders or just a simple chicken noodle? No matter what your preference, volunteers at the annual Bread for Life (BFL) Soup Nite were ready to serve.
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, the annual fundraising event drew the largest crowd to date into the cafeteria at Southington High School where volunteers scooped dozens of varieties of local soups for hungry participants. For just over a quarter century, BFL has organized this event to generate funds to feed the homeless, hungry, and homebound.
Shirley Mason, who has served BFL for 30 years, recalled the history of the annual event. “It started at St. Paul’s, and then moved to Derynoski,” said Mason. “We outgrew Derynoski and eventually came to SHS.”
“Everything goes back into BFL,” said BFL board chair Mike Soltys.
The money collected from entry tickets, as well as the raffle tickets, all goes back to BFL so that they can continue to serve the community. Food, drinks, desserts, and raffle gift baskets were all donated by various organizations to make this happen.
The event is made possible with the assistance of many participating local restaurants. Each of the 28 restaurants involved donated five gallons of soup that were served during the event.
The SHS key club and other groups from the school volunteered their time to serve food, wait on tables, and clean up.
The guitar and music clubs provided live entertainment, and Valentine the clown made an appearance to paint faces and interact with the children.
Soup Nite Chairwoman Gloria Colonero was on hand with her whole family to help make the event run smoothly. Hafford said that her family has always been involved and willing to help, and Colonero added that her daughter used to serve on the BFL board as well.
This was Eldon Hafford’s last Soup Nite as executive director of BFL. Hafford recently announced his retirement, and BFL named Donna Ayer to be his successor. Both were on hand to assist at this year’s event.
Even though he’s stepping down as executive director, Hafford said that he will continue to support the board post retirements.
“It has been a pleasure working with Bread for Life,” he said, “and the relationship will continue.”
Photos by JEN CARDINES