FAIRHOPE – Members of Jubilee Shores United Methodist Church make and serve more than 100 bowls of soup each month for the community. The project, which began as an occasional helping hand, has turned into monthly visits and created friendships across generations.
In 2010, a group of members from the JSUMC in Fairhope performed community service including minor home repairs, yard clean-up, and delivering meals to those in need. This service, initially only known as the Fifth Sunday Ministry, was performed on each month a fifth Sunday occurred.
In 2016, this service expanded to become Soup for the Soul. The group provides containers of soup at the end of every month to those in need including residents of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association National Housing Corporation in Fairhope.
Earlier this year, Soup for the Soul learned of an another AHEPA facility in Daphne that could use help. Immediately, members began contributing additional containers of soup to provide these residents of the second facility.
“The response was overwhelming,” said Randy Cox, member of JSUMC and Soup for the Soul Ministry.
Soup for the Soul and members of JSUMC are not only distributing over 100 containers of soup to the two facilities, they also deliver soup to others in need.
“In addition, they deliver the soup to anyone in our church or community who are sick, elderly, or have physical or spiritual needs,” Cox said.
But where does the soup come from? Volunteers from the congregation of JSUMC not only offer delivery services, they also offer their own cooking skills.
“Each month, a soup recipe is placed on the church bulletin. The recipes are a wide variety of inexpensive, but hardy and nourishing soups. Some of the recipients have even begun to request their favorites for the next month,” Cox said.
Volunteers make the soup and freeze it in 2 to 3 cup plastic containers. Afterwards, the soup is brought to the church to be distributed to the community. Tina Booth and Jackie Breazeale, who manage the deliveries, organize volunteers to deliver the soup containers door-to-door each month. Occasionally, the youth group makes homemade treats to include with the soup.
“It is an overwhelming experience to see the faces of these residents light up when they see the kids at their doors,” Cox said.
Booth says her children, Emmy and Henry, also look forward to these visits each month.
“I am sure the residents appreciate the food, but the real joy comes to us as we see their faces,” Breazeale and Booth agreed.
Along with cooking and delivering soup, volunteers from JSUMC enjoy holding special events for the community including a Thanksgiving meal and a summer picnic in July featuring pulled pork. Last year, there was even an anonymous donor who provided Walmart gift cards to every resident for Christmas.
“AHEPA 310-III in Fairhope has been well served by JSUMC and the Soup for the Soul Ministry! We have benefited from this outreach and the residents look forward to the soup and fellowship. AHEPA has been blessed by the giving spirit of this church in many ways, from the soup to clothing, holiday dinners, and genuine fellowship by many of its members,” said Fairhope AHEPA manager Joy Wright.
Pastor Marty Hamilton and his wife Heather who have been serving JSUMC for the past six years are making the community outside of Jubilee Shores their main purpose. Hamilton believes JSUMC is more than hearing a sermon from a preacher – he believes in transforming the lives of friends, neighbors, and the world by showing the community what the love and grace of God is about.
“Our mission is helping folks outside of these walls who really aren’t connected to Jubilee Shores. To meet these goals, we feel it is not about us, nor about what we say, but what we do,” Hamilton said.
The concept of Soup for the Soul is founded on the bible verse Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
The Soup for the Soul Ministry is fully funded by its members, but anyone interested in helping is encouraged to connect with JSUMC.