An earthquake, Hurricane Irene and her tornados could not keep ABC’s “Extreme Makeover-Home Edition,” Schell Brothers and a few thousand volunteers from building the Jusst Sooup Ranch in only one week last September, yet a lull in contributions could cast a cloud over the ministry’s near- and long-term goals to care for hundreds of Delaware’s hungry and homeless each week.
On Saturday, Feb. 25, from noon to 3 p.m., the 2nd Annual Rock-n-Roll BBQ Fundraiser will take place at the Lewes Presbyterian Church to benefit the Jusst Sooup Ministry. It will also give the Dunning family their first opportunity to thank the community in person for helping their dreams become reality.
“Even though the lights, camera and action of the ‘Extreme Makeover’ are over,” said the Rev. Dale Dunning, “for me it’s just the beginning! The fundraiser will be a wonderful way to shine the spotlight back on every sponsor, donor or volunteer from our community who helped us. I look forward to saying, ‘I love you, I appreciate you and I’m so very, very grateful for all that has been done for us.’”
Sponsors for this year’s fundraiser include Insight Meditation Community-Lewes, Edge Company Home Improvements, Rehoboth Beach Yoga Center, Long Neck Sunrise Rotary, Long Neck Chiropractic, Hyett Refrigeration and Schaeffer’s Plumbing Services.
It’s been a 15-year journey for Dunning – from cooking on a one-burner stove in an RV to waking up on the ranch and cooking in a designer commercial-grade kitchen and dining pavilion, where even more fresh soup can be made and served.
While the use of the kitchen and dining space for those outside the family is still pending County permitting, Dunning said the seasonal nature of the region, tough economic times and perhaps a misperception that the ministry received funding from “EM:HE” for their food operation has created a need as great as it ever has been for help in stocking the larder.
“We always have clothing coming in,” said Dunning’s husband, Ken, who said he initially believed he could just work three jobs to fund the soup kitchen, rather than ask for charity. He still works three jobs, however, as Sussex County has grown and the attendance at their locations has along with it and Ken feels, “There will always be a need for my wife’s soup.”
“One of the desires of my heart right now, since we have a huge new walk-in freezer,” said Dale Dunning “would be to have it filled with frozen mixed vegetables – broccoli, limas, spinach, kale. We use chicken and turkey and loads of rice and noodles, but I use so many vegetables because people really, really need that nourishment when they come here.”
For some people who are struggling, that bowl of soup might be the only complete meal they have that day or for several days. The ministry also helps the needy with bathing facilities, toiletries, transportation, groceries, prescription assistance and, when possible, finding a roof to put over their heads.
“I’ve been called to make ‘Sooup,’” said Dale Dunning. “I’ve been called to serve others. I’ve been called to love on them and to listen to them and to do whatever I can do for them. But my vision is to one day be able to cook and also feed my ‘Little Soupers’ right at the Jusst Sooup Ministry Ranch. That’s what it’s all about for me!”
Live entertainment at the fundraiser will be provided by Bare Feet from 1 to 2 p.m., featuring modern and classic rock. This will be their fifth time donating their musical talents toward the Jusst Sooup cause.
The event menu includes Billy Schaeffer’s “famous” barbecued chicken and Dale Dunning’s “sooups,” as well as additional main and side dishes, desserts and non-alcoholic beverages from the various sponsors and their volunteers.
Tax-deductible donations, in exchange for tickets, are set at $15, and tickets will be sold at the door. For event information, contact Nick Edge at (302) 645-7006 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks to “Jusst Sooup Ministry” for the fund drive should be addressed: c/o Nick Edge, 17019 Bristol Rd., Lewes DE, 19958. Lewes Presbyterian Church is located at 133 Kings Highway in Lewes, with parking behind church. For directions, visit www.lewespresbyterianchurch.org. For information on the Jusst Sooup Ministry, visit www.jusstsooup.org.