The Lehigh County Conference of Churches hosted an outdoor “Souper Carnival” in South Whitehall over the weekend to raise money and increase awareness for its soup kitchen in downtown Allentown.
Around 125 people came out for the carnival, held Saturday on the grounds of .
Soup kitchen volunteer Sue Highet said the church loaned its groves and park space for the carnival “at absolutely no cost, just in appreciation of their mission -- to help the soup kitchen.”
Elizabeth Benke, who chairs the conference of churches' support committee, said the organization has not yet tallied the money raised, but had expected to raise $3,000 to $4,000. The amount is expected to be finalized within two to three weeks. Lehigh County Conference of Churches employees and volunteers joined with local businesses to increase donations to the soup kitchen.
At the seven-hour event, music was provided by John “DJ Papa John” Chatman, and the Leading Edge Martial Arts karate school gave a demonstration. Mini-basketball games and bean bag tosses also took place.
Burgers and hotdogs were served for both lunch and dinner from the pavilion. The meals were served by volunteers from the church and the soup kitchen.
Raffle prizes included a five-hour fishing trip on the Delaware River donated by Backwoods Angler.
In addition, 18 crafters and artisan vendors rented tables to display and sell handicrafts, wares, art, and jewelry.
Various local businesses provided items that carnival-goers could bid on and purchase in a silent auction. Restaurants such as , Texas Roadhouse, and donated gift certificates. The Iron Pigs minor league baseball team contributed ticket vouchers for future games, bobble-heads and autographed baseballs. All proceeds went to the soup kitchen.
Aside from the fundraising, Lehigh County Conference of Churches officials hoped the Souper Carnival would inspire the community to volunteer at the soup kitchen, located at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Eighth and Walnut streets, Allentown. Information and literature was available.
“There’s a big need for the soup kitchen” Highet said. “The kitchen does phenomenal work. It doesn’t only feed people, but also provides a fellowship. We spend time with the people that come from the street to visit the kitchen, where they can interact with others and get hot meals.”
The Souper Carnival was supervised by Benke, along with Charles Brannon, the soup kitchen's program coordinator. The soup kitchen provides hot, well-balanced meals to the homeless, the elderly, children and at-risk youth, and the unemployed. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 1 p.m.
According to the Lehigh Count Conference of Churches' website, the soup kitchen served 37,467 meals last year, including 1,393 meals to children.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call 610-433-6421.