H.E.L.P. soup dinner raises money for utility bills

March 1, 2019

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — Hands Extended Loving People (H.E.L.P.) Ministry hosted a soup dinner fundraiser at the United Methodist Church on Thursday evening.

Money raised during the dinner helps people pay their heating bills. Larry Lange, executive director of H.E.L.P., said the event has been held on-and-off for about 16 years. Last year, the fundraiser took place during Super Bowl weekend and after a positive response, Lange said they wanted to continue holding the dinner, since some of the years the event has not been held.

“It’s a fundraiser, but a very low-key fundraiser,” Lange said.

H.E.L.P. is a nonprofit, faith-based service agency. The organization is supported by more than 20 local churches in one capacity or another, Lange said.

“Some of it is this sort of thing, others is financial, others is volunteers,” said Lange.

The goal of H.E.L.P. is to work with other local agencies to support people in the community and also provide a service where those organizations sometimes can’t, according to Lange. H.E.L.P. offers financial resources for utilities, electrical, propane, medical, rent and car repair.

“Every day there is always a new request coming in; something totally different than you have had before,” Lange said.

H.E.L.P. has a total of 120 volunteers to make the ministry work.

Twelve area restaurants donated a total of 19 gallons of soup for the dinner. Volunteers made the dessert.

Approximately 150 people have come to the fundraiser in the past, but Lange said they don’t really keep count.

“They kind of come and go, so it’s hard to keep track,” Lange said.

In previous years, the soup dinner has raised “$2,500 or $3,000,” according to Lange.

“But when it takes $600 to fill a propane tank, it doesn’t go very far,” said Lange, in regards to the potential costs of utilities.

“It’s more of a get-together and share stories, and many of these people are here year after year,” Lange said.

Jericho House had a few women volunteering at the event, according to Christy Sniegowski, the director of the Christian-based transitional home and shelter for women.

“One of the things that always amazes me is how willing the business community is to support however they can,” Lange said.