By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
On a dark and stormy October evening, residents crowded into the Southington High School cafeteria with only one thing on their minds…soup. At the annual Bread For Life Soup Nite, residents raised money for the community organization while enjoying family-friendly entertainment and food donated by area restaurants.
Bread For Life executive director Donna Ayer, said that the annual Soup Nite event and fundraiser—BFL’s largest fundraiser each year—originally started as a volunteer appreciation dinner. As the event continued, it eventually out-grew its first two venues, leading Soup Nite to take up residence at the high school.
The dinner spread—complete with soup, bread, desserts, and beverages—were donated by: 75 Center, Angela’s Pizza, Anthony Jack’s, the Aqua Turf, Aziago’s, Back Nine, Bread Four Life, the Bread For Life Bakers Club, Cava Restaurant, Chef Luke, Close Harbour, Craft Kitchen, Crystal Bee’s, Flair Restaurant, Fratelli’s, JD’s Pizzeria, Hawk’s Landing, Hop Haus, Kenzie Kakes, Lewis Farms, Live Well, Manor Inn, Mulberry Gardens, New Mill, Outback, Paul Gregory’s, Pepper Pot, Kagozzino Deli, Renaldo’s Rogers Orchards, Saint’s, Sassy Mama’s Seafood, Sam the Clam’s, Smokin’ with Chris, Subway, Viron Rondo, and Zingarella’s.
“I’m overwhelmed by the support of people coming out in that terrible rainstorm and making the extra effort to support Bread For Life. They wanted to come to support our work and our mission, and that means a lot,” said Ayer, who expressed her appreciation for all of the volunteers including 70 students, 60 adults, and local restaurants and businesses.
Throughout the evening, attendees were served by members of the Southington High School Key Club and the DePaolo Middle School leadership program, who volunteered alongside BFL volunteers.
The student volunteers were no stranger to community service. The SHS Key Club is the longest running club at the school. Beth Hosmer, the club’s advisor, explained that students in the club are required to perform at least four hours of community service per month, and Soup Nite is always a favorite for club members. The DePaolo leadership program has around 400 students who regularly volunteer their time throughout the community.
More than $7,000 was raised during the annual event, which Ayer explained will go back to BFL, allowing them to continue to operate their 31 Vermont Ave. facility, as well as offer a plethora of programs to aid the Southington community.
“It means so much, it’s just sort of an affirmation of what we’re doing, that people in the community want to help others in need, which is really what we’re providing,” said Ayer. “The outpouring of support is reaffirming for us that the community believes in what we’re doing and wants to give a helping hand.”
BFL’s mission is to provide “food, fellowship, and a sense of dignity to those in need,” according to their website, www.southingtonbreadforlife.org. The nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization relies on community aid and donations to ensure that no Southington resident goes hungry. This vision is accomplished through serving meals in the BLF kitchen daily, which are also delivered to seniors and home-bound citizens, and to children during the summer months.
In 2018, Bread For Life served more than 35,000 meals across all of their programs, and an additional 2,145 lunches through the children’s summer lunch program.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@PlainvilleObserver.com.