Soup Supper for Lent

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The regulars at St. Ann Parish's soup supper have been coming for so long no one can recall how many years it's been.

A table of six longtime parishioners got their heads together to try and figure it out.

Who was in school there when? Whose friend made what soup that year? How many years have they all sat at the same table in the front?

The 1970s seemed to be the consensus.

They say in the beginning it was "watered-down soup with crackers."

Last week, beef borscht, lentil and chicken noodle soup, with a side of bread or crackers, drew more than 100 parishioners to the parish hall for the annual Lenten tradition.

Chris Chelak, soup supper coordinator, detailed the procedure, from her team of volunteers - high school students to the more seasoned helpers; the folks who whip up soup and either drop it off or stay to sample their own creation or someone else's; and the clean-up crew who at 7 p.m. sharp start the process, made easier with paper and plastic setups.

Each week the proceeds of the voluntary donations - equivalent to the cost of a meal at a casual restaurant - go to fund a local charity. Last week, that was Doorways for Women and Families affected by domestic violence and homelessness. The supper raises about $400 a week, Chelak said.

"It's not as much about raising the money as doing something as a community," she said.

They use an online tool, SignUpGenius, to track volunteers and soup contributions. But they always seem to have enough.

Bishop O'Connell High School senior Ellen Dhondt has volunteered at the supper for the past two years. She attended St. Ann School and said she still knows "the cool things that go on here."

"Some people want to know which soup their friends made or they only want the soup they made," she said. "One woman only wants alphabet soup. I found some in the freezer."

Anne Landry, Marianna Cochran and Pat Daley were among the last to leave, enjoying the camaraderie and the warm soup.

Landry crumbled her bread in her beef borscht as she chatted with her pals.

Parishioner Tom Mockler made it just in time to grab a bowl of chicken noodle soup and meet his wife there. "It's the thing to do" during Lent, he said.

The next soup supper, March 18 from 5:30-7 p.m., will feature chicken rice and chef's choice with proceeds going to the Paul Stefan Foundation, which provides housing for women in crisis pregnancies.

March 25, from 6 to 8 p.m., SOME (So Others Might Eat) will bring handmade bowls with a catered soup dinner for a contribution of $25 to benefit the Washington charity that serves the poor and homeless

The final soup supper this year is April 1 with beef noodle and chef's choice to benefit AFAC (Arlington Food Assistance Coalition).

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015