SOUP leans toward the great outdoors

Betsy PickleFeature, South Knox

Fall is definitely in the air – and so is the aroma of inspiring soup.


Knoxville SOUP returns Tuesday, Oct. 23, to bring the community together and raise funds for a worthy project. Residents from all around Knox County are invited to come and share a meal of soup, salad and dessert and hear about four community-minded endeavors.

Attendees vote for their favorite project, and the one with the most votes wins the pot from the door. A donation of $5 per person is suggested at the entrance (more is welcome!). There are also numerous raffle items provided by businesses and individuals, with proceeds going to fund SOUP expenses.

October’s SOUP will take place at Kerbela Shriners, 315 Mimosa Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the program begins at 6:30.

Although the format of SOUP follows a pattern, each dinner is different. For starters, the chair of the event rotates through the SOUP planning team.

“It’s different each time, with new volunteers giving new perspectives,” says Janine Al-Aseer, chair for the upcoming SOUP. Also ever-changing are “the food and raffle donors – businesses within the community that see the value of supporting this community project and having their name associated.”

Previous winners have included neighborhood groups, school projects, nonprofits and even individuals. At July’s SOUP, held at the South Knoxville Community Center, New Hopewell Elementary Community School won $708.75 for its project, Tremont Teacher Training.

The New Hopewell team will report on how it has used the funds to train teachers for the new science standards at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.

While most of the SOUP winners and applicants have been from South Knoxville, projects from throughout the county are eligible. An East Knoxville community will also be represented on Oct. 23.

“We get many more proposals from South Knoxville,” says Al-Aseer. “We believe that’s because the project started here (with the support of the South Knoxville Alliance), and we have more South Knoxvillians in attendance. They are more familiar with how easy it is to submit a proposal and present it at the dinner, so they are more apt to submit.

“We hope to expand the SOUP location to be held in other neighborhoods and are looking for individuals who might be interested in helping us make that happen.”

The October projects to be presented are the Blanket Ministry of Hillcrest United Methodist Church, which knits blankets for patients at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital; Chapman Highway Dogwood Trail Enhancements, which plans to beautify the entrances and more to the three neighborhoods that will comprise the trail in 2019 – Colonial Village, Lake Forest and Lindbergh Forest; Ogle Avenue Bus Shelters; and Spring Hill Elementary School Asphalt Game Boards.

It’s hard to predict which proposal will win the audience’s hearts. Once, there was even a tie, so two groups split the funding. Al-Aseer points out ingredients that improve a presenter’s prospects:

“The best advice I’d give is to demonstrate how these funds might help your project achieve its goals,” she says. “What, specifically, might these funds help create?

“In addition, it never hurts to bring lots of supporters with you!”

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