CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in Champaign gave out more than 900 backpacks filled with winter gear to keep their guests warm for the holidays.
“What we found was, people this time of year, were showing up with no gloves, no hats, no scarves,” says Backpack Project lead Ellen Harms. “They were always asking us for these kinds of things.”
The soup kitchen serves almost 250 people a day, but they had almost 1,000 people stop by for the 11th annual Backpack Project. Community members donated coats, blankets, hats, scarves, and more to fill the bags. During the event, Santas gave out cookies and police officers played carols. They know the occasion means a lot.
“This time of year, a lot of people are lonely,” says volunteer Charlie Brown Jr. “A lot of people don’t have people to interact with. For me to be able to come in here and take pictures with the guests and interact with guests and see the smiles on their face, it means the world.”
The soup kitchen’s goal was to spread holiday cheer with a gift. For some the guests, it is just the thought that counts.
“It’s a great thing,” says guest Jimmie Dorris. “I’ve been coming out to this kitchen for a long time, the Daily Bread. This is my other family. They support us, they help us with love and peace and kindness. The joy that they give out to us is very, very beautiful.”
Three dozen volunteers took part in making it happen. They have been stuffing backpacks for two weeks. It is all they needed to make their holiday.
“My daughter said, ‘This makes me feel like Christmas,'” says Harms. “I think that’s how we all feel.”
The backpacks only went to adults who have been to the soup kitchen. They also included toiletries like toothpaste, soap, and more. They broke a record they set last year of the most backpacks given.