Items donated for giveaway at the annual S.O.U.P. Day and Coat Giveaway include several clothes and household items. From page 11 to those in need, but those in want. The giveaway events are an opportunity to minister to physical and spiritual hunger, as those who come for a bowl of soup or giveaway item often return for worship, bible study or stay for a prayer or chat with the pastor or congregational member. “As their pastor, it warms my heart to see the kind and giving spirit of our children and the adults encouraging them,” said Rev. Dr. Robert Blythe, minister of First Baptist Church and Richmond’s new mayor-elect. “Their excitement is contagious, it shows the light of Christ, and this is why we’re excited to minister to the community.” This year, they had more than 50 people in attendance, which was a lower number than in recent years but still considered a good turnout. Simmons believed the low attendance was largely due to the multiple activities happening citywide, including a visit from President Trump. Donation items were dropped off at the church the evening prior, with children helping carry boxes and bags and organizing items for the giveaway. They made their own signs to entice passers-by to come in for fellowship and free goodies, then greeted people as they filtered in. “They’d stand on the corner with their handmade signs and yell with everything they’ve got ‘everything’s free,’ ” laughed Simmons. “One little girl who came in said, ‘I love this church.’” Simmons noted that when people come in, members are sure to invite them back to the church for their other ministries. The children help visitors, show them what’s available in the giveaway, and assist in gathering or bagging items if needed. Then, they seat them and show them the soup menus they drew themselves. The children will take their orders, give them to the adults in the kitchen, and help serve the soup to their guests. “It teaches them how to serve others,” Simmons said. “They 12 Madison Living WINTER 2018 enjoy it and race each other to take soup orders.” The children would sing to people as they came in to the event, even praying with them. Church members cooked six to eight different pots of soup, including cheddar broccoli, cheddar potato, taco soup and white chicken chili. There was not much soup left over this year, according to Simmons. They also offered crackers, cheeses, tea and water, as well as homemade and store-bought desserts, such as cakes and cookies. “Every person in our church can contribute in some way,” said Simmons. “Whether it’s cooking soup, saving and donating items for the sale, or making a dessert — everyone helps.” Simmons finds that some people come to get things for other families in need, who might not have the ability to attend. They would pull up and wait at the end of the sale, when Simmons’ team would bring items to them, to take to the families. “We are trying to reach those who are really in need,” noted Simmons. “This is how we take care of each other.” “It’s obvious they have an overwhelming benevolent spirit,” said Blythe. “The children get really excited about giving items away.” Simmons says the next S.O.U.P. and Coat Giveaway will likely be Oct. 12, 2019. The church hosts other free community programs, including a Christmas play on Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. They have a church van and will pick up people for Sunday School, which starts at 9:30 a.m., worship or a bible study. All are welcome to attend worship, which is Sundays at 11 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. For more information, call the church at (859) 624-2045, visit fbcrichmond-francis.com or @FirstBaptistChurchRichmond-FrancisSt on Facebook for updates. The First Baptist Church is located at 300 Francis Street, Richmond.