Sault soup kitchen fundraiser making a comeback

After COVID-19 forced its cancelation last year, Sault Ste. Marie's Soup Kitchen Community Centre is bringing back the "Great Soup Kitchen Sleepover" event. Although the fundraiser is going virtual this year, organizers are hoping for a big turnout.

Ron Sim, the general manager of the soup kitchen, said demand for service has been going up since the beginning of the pandemic, saying thousands of people in the Sault live in poverty and struggle with food security.

"We're probably about 50 per cent more than we were last year at this point and it seems to be going just up, up, up," Sim said. "We're the food bank for all the agencies in town, and right now, we're getting about100 agencies a week to come in and get food for their clients. So, that's quite a few people when you add in kids and everything."

As food costs also continue to increase, Sim said he's hoping for a successful return of the "Great Soup Kitchen Sleepover," which would normally be held outside the facility.

"Now, this year it's going to be virtual so they can do it in their homes, in their yards, in a tent, almost anywhere," he said. "If they want to come to our website, SoupKitchenCommunityCentre.org, they'll find some information on there, or they can give us a call."

The fundraiser challenges participants to spend the night in a box or similar shelter, with just a sleeping bag. Sim said the event was an unforgettable experience for those who have taken part in the past.

"Most of them found that it was really quite eye-opening and that they didn't quite realize how hard it would be for somebody to keep doing that night after night after night," Sim said. "Most of them said they wouldn't want to experience that again."

This year's "Great Soup Kitchen Sleepover" will be held Nov. 5 and pledge forms can be found on the soup kitchen's website.