Local volunteers delivered 40 bowls of homemade soup to surprised community members last Saturday, and created a new group called “From Anderson With Love.”
It was an idea modeled after Nenana’s “Soup for the Soul” program and moved to implementation by the new popular podcast The Pulse in Anderson and Nenana.
Anderson is a small community about 70 miles south of Fairbanks, adjacent to Clear Air Force Station. It is about six miles west of the Parks Highway at Mile 283.6.
Volunteer Robyn Sutton was amazed the volunteer effort came together so quickly.
She proposed the idea about 10 days ago during an episode of the podcast, which airs several evenings every week. The podcast is a local call-in show that highlights community happenings and provides an open forum for callers.
“We’re chatting back and forth on this podcast and brainstorming what we can do to make a positive change for our community and bring ourselves together,” she said. “I’m thinking, gosh, why don’t we do something like Nenana does, a Soup Sunday or a Soup Saturday.”
Volunteers in Nenana began delivering homemade soup to residents in need beginning in August 2020.
Times are tough during COVID, Sutton added, especially for those with little income and no way to travel to town for shopping. She anticipated a long process of organizing and recruiting volunteers.
Five days later, she was surprised when Brett Oakley, who spearheads the podcast, announced a meeting on Friday to get things moving. He even gave the program a name and a Facebook page: From Anderson With Love.
“It was just amazing,” she said.
The group met and made a list of all the families they knew could benefit from a surprise delivery of tasty homemade soup and then arranged to make it all happen on Saturday, Jan. 30, at North Star Community Church.
“All this was donations from ourselves,” Sutton said. That included utensils, soup bowls, cooking pots, coffee and personal vehicles to make deliveries.
“Someone had a ham,” she said. “Someone donated a great big bag of beans.”
So ham and bean soup was the first soup they cooked.
“We ran out of soup,” she said. “We had just enough to distribute to families. There were no leftovers, which was great.
“And we got positive feedback from everyone we delivered to.”
The question now is, what is next?
Right now, the group is discussing details, but they say the special soup deliveries will definitely happen again. They just have to decide how often soup days will happen.
After the success of the first delivery day, more volunteers are coming forward.
“The more the merrier,” Sutton said. She could even envision a rotating schedule for volunteers.
“It feels good,” Sutton said. “It really does. Especially to surprise people.”
The group intends to limit the soup deliveries to the community of Anderson and not expand out to the Parks Highway, which is six miles away.
“We want to keep it small,” she said. “We all came together so quick. It’s hard to believe.”
At one point during the soup making day, she just stood back, watched and sighed. “It’s really happening,” she said to herself.
After the success of the first day, she let her friends in Nenana know how well the day went.
“They are cheering us on,” she said. “Like,’Way to go.’ ”
“We all feel pretty good about our accomplishment this past Saturday,” she said. “We put our heads together, we did it and it came out wonderful.”
Oakley, who spearheads the podcast, agreed.
“It’s time to get the community back together again,” he said. The podcast schedule is available on the podcast’s Facebook page. It is a certainty that “From Anderson With Love” will be discussed on the next podcast episode.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.