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Super Sunday Helps Build A Better Jonesboro
by Audrey Hanes

Ten years ago, several Habitat for Humanity of Greater Jonesboro volunteers who worked at what is now Elite Realty started an event called Souper Sunday to raise money for the nonprofit organization and its effort to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope.

“They met with our board and came up with this new fundraiser they ended up calling Souper Sunday,” said Micheal Sullivan, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Jonesboro executive director. “The realtors took it upon themselves to secure soups, silent auction items, sell tickets and host the entire event. Year after year, the event kept being a huge success, and it kept growing. It was not until its seventh year that Habitat for Humanity took over coordinating the event. Now, 10 years in, we are so thankful for the volunteers who created and grew this wonderful fundraiser that helps so many in our community through housing.”

The 10th annual Souper Sunday will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Jonesboro Red Wolf Convention Center. Organizers hope the new venue will allow for more attendees and new additions to the decade-old event.

“The change of venue will allow us to grow the event, and we want to support a convention center that this city needed so badly,” said 2019 Souper Sunday organizer Leslie Conner, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Jonesboro’s community outreach coordinator and the manager of Atlanta-based event planning business HazleHurst House.

The event relies on the generosity of more than 20 area restaurants to provide soup for the event’s hundreds of guests. Participating this year are Cracker Barrel, Meals for Moms, Honey Baked Ham, Schlotzsky’s, Chicken Salad Chick, Red Lobster, Houlihan’s, The Edge Coffee House, Panera Bread and many more.

“It’s grown so much in the last decade,” said Connor. “We have anywhere from 400 to 600 guests who go through the event in three hours. We have added a silent auction we plan to expand on now that we have more room. In the convention center, a DJ will help direct things, we’ll have a photo booth and we are looking for someone to do face painting; if there are little things like that we can do to make it more of a family-friendly event, that’s what we’ll do.

“It’s a very affordable event; we want for families to be able to come after church. We would love for people to come out and take part and get involved.”

Sullivan says that his favorite part of Souper Sunday is seeing the amount of support the Jonesboro community gives Habitat for Humanity.

“There are so many volunteers used to plan the event and even more during the actual event day to make Souper Sunday happen,” said Sullivan. “(We appreciate) the local businesses and organizations that donate silent auction items and restaurants who donate soup, and of course the hundreds of people who attend the event. Seeing it all come together is truly what I enjoy most.”

The event is Habitat for Humanity of Greater Jonesboro’s only fundraiser. The money raised will go towards everything needed for the nonprofit organization to build area homes, from paint to nails and everything in between. For those who wish to give more regularly, a new opportunity at Souper Sunday, the Carpenter’s Club, will allow businesses or individuals to commit to a monthly gift – which can be as little as $15 a month and will be autodrafted.

“Contact the office; we always need volunteers,” said Conner of how the community can help the nonprofit organization. “We have a whole community being built on (Phillip Evans Parkway) with nine houses and a city park; volunteers can be part of a build or A Brush with Kindness, help monetarily, or even with the resale shop. We take all kinds of things for that.”

The resale shop itself, Habitat ReStore, recently reopened at a larger location at 3610 East Highland Drive, which Conner says will hopefully be more convenient and have more visibility in the community.

A Brush with Kindness, a minor exterior repair program to help existing homeowners, is another way to get involved. The program was developed by the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Jonesboro class of 2018 and includes exterior painting, landscaping, yard cleanup and wheelchair ramp construction.

“We offer A Brush with Kindness to individuals who already own their homes, such as an elderly couple who needs help with maintenance, or someone who needs a ramp built,” said Connor. “It also helps beautify the city of Jonesboro.

“Habitat is not a handout, it’s a hand up – that’s part of their philosophy. We have a young lady who signed a mortgage this month and we have another woman we are starting on her home next month. … Home ownership, no matter what, is a right for everyone. It should be important to everyone. It helps our tax base, and it helps make people appreciate owning something, no matter what income level they’re at.”

“At the end of the day, the funds raised during Souper Sunday goes to helping families in Jonesboro with their housing needs, whether that is helping an existing homeowner make needed repairs or helping a family obtain homeownership for the first time,” said Sullivan. “That is what really matters, and that is the impact Souper Sunday has in our community.”

Tickets for Souper Sunday are available on Eventbrite or at the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Jonesboro office; adults are $12 in advance or $15 at the door, children ages 5 to 12 are $5 and children under the age of 5 are free. For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Greater Jonesboro, located at 520 West Monroe Ave., call (870) 203-9898 or visit jonesborohabitat.com.