A group of volunteers are providing meals to those who need, or just would like one

Molalla's United Methodist Church has opened a soup kitchen.

A warm, comforting bowl of soup can't cure all that ails someone, but it can be the start on a road to recovery.

That's the hope of Carrol Haushalter and the volunteers who help at Molalla United Methodist Church as they break in their new soup kitchen. The free meal is available every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. and on the fourth Saturday of the month from 1 to 3 p.m. And Haushalter hopes it's something that will make a difference in Molalla.

"Our community is sick," she said. "Not the whole community, but there are issues here and we want to help with those. We want to help put our community on the road to recovery, so that's why we opened the soup kitchen."

Located at 111 Mathias Road in Molalla, the facility is looking for those who may need a good meal or simply want one. Those who stop by don't have to attend services as the program is non-religious – it just happens to be housed in a church.

"Our goal is to reach into the community for those who want or need it," said Haushalter. "Some people are simply tired of eating alone every day. It's lonely at times. We want them to come have a meal with us."

Haushalter said she was inspired to push the soup kitchen idea along by her daughter's experience in the Houston area. Flooded out twice last year, then again just recently, the needs seen in Texas prompted action in Oregon.

"She was hauled out this time in the back of a dump truck, and when the water receded, she and her husband went door-to-door to see what people needed," said Haushalter. "What makes people feel better when they're sick? A bowl of soup. It might not make you well, but it puts you on the road to recovery."

The program is brand new, having just opened its doors last week. While the response was minimal initially, Haushalter is hopeful the need she knows exists in Molalla will start to be met. There are plenty of volunteers at the ready and the program is building relationships with other organizations and churches in the community to broaden their scope.

But in the end, it will all start with a free meal for someone who needs or wants it.

"There are a lot of people who want to do this," she said. "This is their community and they want to help those in need. I'm hoping the people will start to feel more comfortable and will take advantage. As winter comes on, I think people will feel more inclined to come in as it gets cold.

"Our main thing is to help Molalla on the road to recovery in the areas that need it," she added. "We want to help with those issues."

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