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Majel Carroll Viewpoint: After successful Soup-er Bowl, thrift shop rolls on

Stone Soup's 5th annual Soup-er Bowl was held and the final figures are in. Over $45,000 was raised. What impressive community support.

On behalf of the board of Basic Needs Inc. Stone Soup Thrift Shop, we want to say thank you to our community for the great success of our April 30 Stone Soup-er Bowl fundraiser at Park Grove Bowl. Volunteers from businesses, organizations, participants, Stone Soup staff, our board of directors, and all who donated funds, contributed prizes, gifts, time, and more made this event a real success.

Fifty-eight teams joined us this year, an increase from last year. There were prize drawings, and the best team costume winners received medallions provided by Ed's Trophies.

Special thanks to Jimmy John's for pickles & chips, the St. Paul Park/Newport Lions for grilled hot dogs, SuperMom's for buns and cookies, Pepsi products from SuperAmerica, and the terrific spicy Jambalaya, made on site with the help of the New-Park Lions Club by Jennifer and Brian Bierma. Brian Schmidt and Gregg Wilwert from our local cable commission added to the entertainment (see it on cable). All helped make our annual Soup-er Bowl a real winner.

Thank you for the sponsorships of businesses, individuals, and team participants that brought in these funds. It will help Stone Soup meet a portion of our $235,000 budget for rent, wages and expense for 2013.

It's been over 15 years since Stone Soup began to serve the community and more than eight years since Stone Soup moved to our St. Paul Park location, next to Oltman Middle School. Community donations continue to keep our shelves, racks and furniture rooms full. This tough economic period has hit many households very hard. As it becomes more trying, so does the demand for the goods and services Stone Soup provides. Each month more than 1,700 customers shop at Stone Soup to stretch their budgets during these challenging times.

During last winter the donated winter clothing, coats and boots that families very much needed helped to prevent their situations from becoming much worse.

Stone Soup vouchers supply without charge clothing, furniture and many other needed household items. During 2012, Stone Soup donated goods worth $136,251 to 1,132 people. Each day, as customers enter the store there are bins filled with a variety of free usable items. Dishware, bedding and other goods weighing 9,737 pounds and 403 pieces of free furniture were offered in this way. This represented 54 percent of our total store merchandise given without charge, to persons in need and the community. The store also provides free donated bread and rolls, and summer produce from local gardens several days each week.

Sales for 2012 were $123,631 and helped pay half of our overhead. Rent and wages are our largest expense. We then rely on grants, donations, and fundraisers like our "Soup-er Bowl" to help cover the balance.

Processing donations and organizing the store was really helped by volunteers giving 3,985 hours of assistance, as well as youth and adults who provided 2,656 hours of community service. Recycling is a large part of our activity. From 2004 to 2012, we recycled 20,541 bags of clothes and 18,024 pounds of shoes and leather.

This positive influence on the community and our clients keep us motivated to continue our mission. We want Stone Soup to be here for families and individuals to assure they can stretch their budgets and improve their situation.

We invite you to visit Stone Soup to see the results of your support, and have a fun time shopping. Volunteers are welcomed and wanted.

We look forward to your visits to Stone Soup, and to your joining us next year for our 6th annual Stone Soup-er Bowl May 17, 2014, at the Park Grove Bowl. It will be bigger, better and more fun.

Majel Carroll is board president of Basic Needs Inc. of South Washington County, which operates Stone Soup Thrift Shop.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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