NAUGATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) — Walter is a retired Navy SEAL who’s homeless in Naugatuck. He lives in a tent, along with a group of other homeless people who also live in tents. They call their quarters “Camp Chaos.”
Their tents are covered with snow, some also have ice. For three days a week, Walter gets help in his battle against hunger. He has an ally in a friend named Carly Holloway.
“She’s got the biggest heart out there on the planet,” Walter said.
When Carly treks through the snow to visit Walter and the others at Camp Chaos, she carries with her bags of food. That food comes from a soup kitchen Carly started with her own stimulus funds. It’s called The Naugatuck Valley Soup Kitchen. But, because of COVID, it isn’t your typical soup kitchen.
People in need of food in Naugatuck or the surrounding area, can sign up on the soup kitchen’s Facebook page. Each morning, Carly and her volunteers prepare boxed meals that they — or other volunteers — will deliver to them. This is to keep everyone as safe as possible from COVID-19.
It also means Carly’s group doesn’t have to pay for a large facility. Community groups and businesses have stepped up to allow Carly to use their kitchens to prepare the meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. On Friday, they were at The Elks Lodge.
Carly started this in the spring and initially, some people thought she was crazy.
“A lot of people were in disbelief,” said Carly. “A lot of people ask me why.”
Some of those people, like Jennifer Campanelli, ended up volunteering to help with cooking, bagging meals, and delivery.
“I thought you know, that’s kind of a crazy thing to do,” Jennifer said. “But, that’s a crazy, KIND thing to do.”
When funds started drying up over the summer, Naugatuck businesses and individuals stepped up with donations. Carly also started selling baked goods at the Farmer’s Market.
“And it blew up,” she said. “It was so successful.”
All these months later, the pandemic is still here. The need for help is still here. The Naugatuck Valley Soup Kitchen is still here.
“It’s still so unbelievable to me,” Carly said. “I feel a whole lot of pride knowing that somebody struggled a little less today because we were here to help them.”
Carly is urging Congress to authorize a second stimulus check so she can put even more money into the soup kitchen and she — along with her volunteers — can provide even more help to all those who need it.