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Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen receives record-breaking donation

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Chad Schwendeman (left) of Exit Lakes Realty Premier delights in presenting at his Baxter offices a record-breaking donation in the amount of $31,180.40 to Pastor Bob Evans, manager of the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen in Brainerd, on Monday, Dec. 3. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 2

It was one for the record books—a feel-good, lump-sum donation to a Brainerd nonprofit—that will help ensure those hungry will always have something to eat in the coming year.

Chad Schwendeman, broker/owner of Exit Lakes Realty Premier, presented an oversized check for $31,180.40 to the manager of the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen on Monday, Dec. 3.

"For us, this is a significant number," Bob Evans said before receiving the check. "We may well be witnessing the single largest donation that our little organization has ever been given, so it's pretty exciting."

Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen near Oak and 10th streets has helped to feed those in need since 1987. It almost closed its doors last year but donors heeded a plea by Evans, a pastor, for financial assistance before Thanksgiving 2017.

Schwendeman said of Monday's donation, "What we did is we had teams, and we went out into the community, and Exit (Realty) corporate donated $4,000 of matching funds. I donated $6,000 on top of that."

Minnesotans visited food shelves 3.4 million times in 2017—"the highest number of visits in recorded history ... about 50,000 more visits than the previous high set in 2014"—according to Hunger Solutions Minnesota of St. Paul.

"We had a contest that allowed agents here, who went to their friends and families and businesses they know, and (they) said, 'Hey, we're matching up to $10,000 to the soup kitchen. Do you want to donate?'" Schwendeman said of Monday's donation.

Hunger Solutions Minnesota, which supports programs and agencies that provide food to those in need, reports about 1 in 10 Minnesotans are food insecure and don't know where their next meal is coming from.

"I can't thank you enough," Evans told the real estate agents at Schwendeman's suite in Baxter. "I just wanted to say on behalf of the folks at the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen, our board and certainly all of our guests that we couldn't possibly thank you enough."

The soup kitchen serves an estimated 1,600 meals a month during the winter. The kitchen is normally open 5:30-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1-1:30 p.m. Sunday.

"Sixty meals a day that are being served on average, seven days a week, and this will give us the resources to provide the food for the whole year, which is incredible, and we're so thankful," Evans said holding the check with Schwendeman.

According to Evans, Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen's operational costs are about $4,000 a month to serve about 2,000 meals.

"We have never received a gift of this size in the 20 years that I've been involved with the soup kitchen," Evans said of Monday's donation.

This time last year, the nonprofit needed to raise about $20,000 by Thanksgiving Day to stay open, according to Evans. The Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen property on Oak Street was purchased in 2015 and included a dilapidated church building that was demolished in 2017.

"We're overwhelmed with this generosity. This is way beyond our wildest dreams of course, and it's incredible," Evans said at Schwendeman's offices.

"This is the single largest donation we've ever (had). It's record-breaking, it's amazing, it's next level, it's off the charts, it's off the hook, it's wild and crazy, and it's awesome."

Last month, Miner's Super One Foods presented Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen with a $5,000 check at the company's grocery store in Baxter. Miner's Super One Markets was named a 2018 Master Marketer. With that recognition came a $25,000 Supervalu Foundation grant that Miner's could put toward the charities of its choice, such as the soup kitchen.

For more information about Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen in Brainerd, call 218-829-4203 or visit www.sharingbread.com, where people can make an online donation or sign up to volunteer to plan the daily menu, prepare the meal, serve the food and clean up.

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