NAUGATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) — The Naugatuck community and Elks Club has stepped up to support the efforts of a local soup kitchen one woman started with her coronavirus stimulus check.
Carly Holloway began the Naugatuck Valley Soup Kitchen when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“I got the idea that Naugatuck needed its own soup kitchen so I used my stimulus check to really begin the whole operation,” she explained.
Since starting over two months ago, the nonprofit has more than doubled the number of people it’s feeding. It is now providing 600 meals a week to 100 families; an increase in demand that required some outside help.
That’s where the local Elks Club came in.
“They gave us a $2,000 grant a few weeks ago to help basically sustain our operation and grow,” Holloway said.
Not to mention, they offered up their kitchen to be the food service’s new headquarters.
“The Elks traditionally have a saying ‘Elks Care, Elks Share,’” said Jim Desmarais, Lodge Secretary for the Elks Lodge 967. “And it as a way for us to share with the community through them.”
And what started as a small kitchen operation using donated and store-bought food, has now expanded to include fresh produce grown right in Naugatuck.
“We had put out an invitation to the community to plant a row of vegetables for us and one resident, Skip Baummer and his wife, wanted to take that a step further,” Holloway said.
The couple donated a plot of land for the kitchen to grow dozens of vegetables to start using in their weekly meals.
Naugatuck residents Kelly Hennessey and Matt Erickson volunteer at the garden each week to do their part for the community.
“We all have different talents and we’re all using them and helping others, said Hennessey. “It’s just a great way for everyone to come together.”
Erickson added, “I think what Carly’s doing is awesome. I’m a lifetime resident of Naugatuck and I love everything that it has to offer. I think this is just one more thing.”
And Holloway says that seeing her community rally around her like this helps with the soup kitchen’s mission.
“I just hope it says ‘we’re here for you. That there are people who care and want to help’ and that ‘you should never be ashamed of accepting that kind of help,’” she explained. “That’s the message we want to send.”