JAMESTOWN – A popular fundraiser for Jamestown’s soup kitchen, the St. Susan’s Center, is back this year after a pandemic hiatus.
St. Susan’s Center is hosting its 19th annual Basket Fair on Saturday, May 7 at the Fluvanna Community Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“It started back when St. Susan’s was located at St. James School, where we were first originally at. And that’s where we had our very first basket fair, which was in the gym of the school there. And it’s progressed through the years, like I said 19 years, and it’s gotten bigger and better. And we’ve been at places such as Chautauqua Suites and JCC, and now we’re at Fluvanna Community Church,” says Kathy Nicastro, Board Member at St. Susan’s Center.
Nicastro says the community’s donations make the raffle a huge success every year, allowing the center to run for a quarter of the year.
However, the Center has seen a rise in people to serve, and inflation on goods they use to provide meals has made it harder to achieve their mission.
“This basket fair is very important to St. Susan’s Center and what it does to support the community, the folks that are in need of a warm meal and some fellowship here at St. Susan’s. So any type of support that you or any organization can give us, that is totally amazing and will be very well received,” says Rowland.
So far, 75 baskets have been donated for the event, but Cherie Rowland, Executive Director at St. Susan’s Center, would like to see around 140 before the raffle, an amount they hit in 2019.
“We’ve got baskets from Tractor Supply, Red Lobster, Lena’s. We’ve gotten baskets from different places such as Desi Lucy Museum and the National Comedy Center,” says Rowland. “And we’ve gotten baskets from Ashville General Store, from several churches such as Pilgrim Church, Kennedy Methodist, all over the county we’ve received baskets from various folks and various organizations.”
Individuals have even been donating their own baskets with their handmade goods for the event. Anyone who would like to donate a basket or volunteer their time can call the center and have them pick up the basket or drop it off themselves before May 5.
50/50 tickets will be available, with additional door prizes up for grabs. Grand prizes this year include two paddle boards, an electric bike, and five hundred dollars in cash.
Food from the Comfort Café will be available as well at the center’s staple item, soup.
More information for the event can be found on Facebook, the center’s website, or by calling the center at 716-664-2253.
The St. Susan’s Center’s longstanding history of helping the community has been upheld since the very inception of the soup kitchen.
“St. Susan’s Center was a tragedy that turned into a dream when young Susan Tornebene was in a severe car accident and left her in the hospital for quite a length of time, she never regained consciousness,” explains Nicastro. “People rallied around her, Father Nick Rafael who is very instrumental and Monsignor Tyndale, two of the clergy that were very instrumental of starting the St. Susan’s Center. And Mr. Tornebene was so gracious that he donated money to, and asked Father Nick, ‘what would you like?’ Their dream, the clergy of the area was to start a soup kitchen for people.”
With the help of Susan’s family and local clergy, the Center opened its doors on February 1, 1984.