Big Soup in Pittsburgh

And then there are the contests.  Each year,  there is a prize for the person who traveled the farthest (Miami, this year), for the smallest soup spoon, and for the most original soup bowl. This year, the winner happened to be celebrating her birthday that very day, and had ordered a special cake with a soup bowl baked into the center.

Winner, most unusual soup bowl contest

Winner, smallest soup spoon contest














But the aspect of Big Soup that touches me most deeply is the commitment to helping others. In their tenth year, the Neelys decided to add a charity component to the festivities, and quietly, with no fanfare, invited people to make a donation to the Food Bank if they wished. And that tradition has continued. In 2018, they collected more than $4000, which was then matched by a local business whose owners wish to be anonymous.  Melissa estimates that all told, they have been able to give  more than $80,000 to the food bank.

And here is a little PS from Melissa on the 2018 Big Soup: “We took the leftover soup, about 40 containers, to the church on the corner by our house (Waverly Presbyterian) and sold them all there after the service. $6 quart. That money went to their local mission which serves many people in our area.” 

After December 2017, which was Big Soup’s 25th year, Melissa and Stephen thought about retiring the event. And no one would have thought ill of them; 25 years of doing anything is pretty darned impressive. But through a happy accident they were invited to tour the food bank facility, and were so impressed with the scope of what the organization does, they felt they had to keep going. “We realized that as long as we were physically and mentally able, it would be pretty selfish of us to quit,” Melissa says. “We can’t stop.“

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