ASHE COUNTY —Ten thousand cans of soup — that’s what the Ashe County Sharing Center is hoping to collect by the conclusion of their first annual “Souper Bowl” Soup Drive which is currently underway.
According to Kelly Vannoy, who chairs the Sharing Center’s board of directors, the drive will coincide with the momentum of the NFL Football playoff games and Super Bowl 50 which will be hosted on Feb. 7.
“People are especially excited about professional football right now because our hometown Carolina Panthers are doing so great and we hope that they are one of the teams in the Super Bowl,” Vannoy said.
Vannoy says that the Sharing Center is asking for soup donations because it is an item that can be used across all five of their pantries including the Main Pantry, Wilkes Community College Ashe Campus Pantry, Northwest Ashe Mobile Pantry, Children’s Backpack Outreach and Ashe Memorial Hospital Pantry.
According to Executive Director Michael Sexton, all five pantries served a total of 28,867 individuals in 2015 and he predicts that number will exceed 30,000 in 2016.
Sexton said the number of those seeking help from the Northwest Ashe Mobile Pantry alone has tripled since it’s start date in March of 2015 from 309 to 864 individuals.
According to Vannoy, because of this continuous growth, volunteers work all 52 weeks out of the year to help keep the shelves of the pantry fully stocked.
“It’s just a constant battle to keep our shelves stocked,” Vannoy said. “We’re the ones that people count on. Hunger doesn’t take a holiday and hunger doesn’t take a vacation.”
Sexton said that each month, the pantries use up to 67 cases of soup which equals 1,600 cans.
“If we raise the 10,000 cans, that would be a six months supply of soup, which would be nice,” Sexton said.
According to Sexton, he hopes that the drive will also allow the pantry to feature a wider variety of soups.
“We can get soup from Second Harvest Food Bank but it’s usually only tomato soup or chicken noodle soup,” Sexton said.
Sexton encourages the community to check with local grocery stores to see when soups are on sale.
“They will find that many times the Healthy Choice soups are on sale and the Progresso soups are on sale,” Sexton said. “Those are items that we simply hardly ever get and can’t afford to go out and buy. We’re not asking anyone to pay full price but to check for the sales which will allow you to buy more.”
Sexton also says that the soup drive would be a great initiative for schools and churches to host competitions to see who can bring in the most soup.
Members of the Sharing Center’s board of directors are holding their own competition for the drive. Sexton said each board member has been assigned a location to see who can bring in the most soup.
According to Sexton, Ashe County’s unseasonably warm winter has presented the perfect opportunity for community members to help the Sharing Center out.
“We’ve had a warm November and December and a lot of people have been able to save money on their heating and electric bills,” Sexton said. “Why not use that money to buy soup for the Sharing Center?”
Here are the locations where you can drop off your soup donation:
Skyline Membership Corporation, Food Lion, Ingles, Ashe Memorial Hospital, Mt. Jefferson Presbyterian, Bethany United Methodist Church, West Jefferson United Methodist Church, First Baptist of West Jefferson, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Ashe County High School, GE Aviation, Ashe County Board of Education, Ashe County Public Library, Wilkes Community College – Ashe Campus, First Citizens Bank, State Employees Credit Union, LifeStore of Warrensville, West Jefferson and Jefferson, Yadkin Valley Bank of West Jefferson and Jefferson, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation and Orion Baptist Church.
“We appreciate everyone’s help in helping us stock the shelves and we’re excited to already see food going in the boxes,” Vannoy said.
Any organization or business interested in having their own Souper Bowl Soup Drive box, contact the Sharing Center at 336-846-7019.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.