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Downtown Soup Kitchen in need of year-round volunteers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Downtown Soup Kitchen located underneath the First United Methodist Church is looking for volunteers who can give their time year-round.

Deborah Mayers has been with the kitchen for six years and said because the majority of current volunteers are older, there are physical restrictions.

"For the most part, our volunteers are retired folk and they have their limitations. Most of the crew in my kitchen right now, won't be doing this a whole lot longer," said Mayers.

Those who work in the soup kitchen are appreciative of holiday volunteers but are seeking people who would like to stay for awhile.

"Everybody likes to come out for the holidays. You get your once or twice a year, your feel-good, and we have no problem with that. Those are the same people who manage to come to church on the holidays as well and there's nothing wrong with that -- however one feels good about their relationship with the community and the world, that's fine," she said. "But we do this all year long and we have a need for people to not just work over the holidays but to come in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and if we got enough volunteers, we'd probably be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well."

The kitchen puts on a "party" three times a week as Mayers described it, welcoming anyone who needs company, a smile, or a bite to eat. The spread is always complete with soup, vegetables, dessert, sides, and something to drink.

"As long as you are well-behaved, you are welcome here anytime. No questions asked," she said. "For some of our guests, this is their sustenance for the day."

That's why Mayers and her crew piece together to-go bags with cups of soup and the equivalent of a half a loaf of bread. Her guests can take whatever they may need.

The kitchen receives most of the food items as donations from companies like B&B Organics and Panera.

Mayers said it's these donations that demand volunteers, too. "There are many other opportunities to serve if you can't be here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or on a holiday meal. There's a lot of things that happen. There are pickups for Panera and for Breadsmith and for B&B."

If you would like to be involved with Mayers' mission of feeding South Bend's hungry, stop by the church located on the corner of Madison and Main Streets. 

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