Soup's On! begins 14th season at Camden church

CAMDEN, Maine (WABI) - For over a decade, a church in Camden has been opening its doors for a weekly soup luncheon.

But, those in attendance go home with more than a full belly.

"The time here is really an upbeat, fun loving time," said organizer, Debbi Hitchings. "There's a lot of laughter, a lot of conversation, and people leave really happy looking forward to next week."

It's been a tradition at the First Congregational Church of Camden for 13 years. Each week, 18 volunteers serve up a bowl of hot soup to help those in need.

"It's a lot of fun to work at," said Hitchings. "Our volunteers have a great time, and they are not just from this church. We have people from other churches that come and help or people that don't even come to our church, or any church, that come and help make soups or wait tables or whatever it might be. They just like to be involved and part of this."

Wednesday was the first day of the 14th season of Soups On as they call it. The free lunch program was started in 2005 after a church member saw a need for a soup luncheon program in the Camden-Rockport area.

"It's just the kind of thing we like to do reaching out to the community, being a part of the community, and serve our community," explained Hitchings.

While some are here to satisfy hunger, others are looking to fulfill their hearts.

"There are a few people who come because they are hungry for a meal, not very many. Most are hungry for companionship and fellowship, and so we come together and have a good time."

There is no charge for the meal, though donations are always accepted.

"We take nothing from the church budget," explained Hitchings. "It's all by donation from people who eat with us or people who support us."

Volunteers are always needed to help serve the average 65 guests each week.

The program will be offered every Wednesday from now until March 27th.