To be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the offering will be conducted at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 521 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Cartersville. The Soup Kitchen Open Closet is an extension of Blankets of Hope, a nonprofit Cartersville resident Ashley Rogers formed in 2007.
“[With Blankets of Hope], we just wanted to help other people,” Rogers said. “... In the beginning, we would collect blankets and we would take food to tent communities — people that are living in the woods or living in tents — and that’s how we began. But throughout the years we sort of branched off into other missionary [efforts]. So we started the Soup Kitchen last year on Christmas Eve 2012, and we had a large turnout.
“We had a little setup with clothing ... just something for everyone to walk away with something,” she said, adding they also dispersed shoes, toys and children’s books at the 2012 event. “But last year when we did it on Christmas Eve, I really didn’t expect for it to be the way it was. I expected maybe a few people but we had over 100 people that we were able to serve. People were walking out with trash bags of clothing. So that alone showed me the need because with the economy being the way it is people can’t buy clothing. People can’t go in stores and buy brand new shoes. So people are very grateful to get even hand-me-downs or even secondhand, gently-used clothing, gently-used shoes [and] gently-used blankets.”
In addition to complimentary food and clothing, 50 free flu vaccinations also will be available for people 13 and older, courtesy of Walgreens in Cartersville. The shots will be administered from 1 to 4 p.m.
“Ashley approached me to say that there would be maybe some underserved patients there that wouldn’t ordinarily be able to get a flu shot,” said Tracie Lunde, pharmacy manager at the local Walgreens. “So we are happy that we’re able to go into the community. We actually have some vouchers to let us administer flu shots at no charge to patients that are in need.
“... Pharmacists are able to administer to ages 13 and older without a prescription from the doctor. Basically we go through a questionnaire and make sure that they’re an eligible patient. ... [Receiving a flu shot] is obviously very important from the standpoint of if you do get the flu most of the time it knocks you down for a week plus, and we know that the vaccine is the best prevention that we have of stopping the flu.”
Through her work with Blankets of Hope, Rogers finds fulfillment in helping others that need assistance and someone who cares.
“Times are so hard everywhere,” Rogers said. “Even though I run an organization or even though I’m over this, I have bad days too. But to be able to see other people who come in that are in situations that I probably couldn’t fathom or even handle, to know that I’m able to show them some type of love, some type of healing, it means a lot to me.
“We began the organization with our children and it shows them how to give back and how to love. Even if you don’t have a lot, it doesn’t take much to show someone just a little bit of love, whether it’s through giving them a hot bowl of soup or whether it’s just through providing them with a clean shirt to put on.”
For more information about The Soup Kitchen Open Closet or to arrange a pickup time for a clothing or blanket donation, call Rogers at 678-327-4047.