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Fundraiser Generates More than $56,000 for the Community's Resident Care Fund

Jill Dutton
July 9, 2024
Maris Grove residents

Since Antoinette "Toni" Kaufman moved to Maris Grove, an Erickson Senior Living community in the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania, she's been very busy, leading the choir, baking zucchini bread--and giving back to the local community. 

Just one year after moving to the community with her late husband John, Toni created an annual fundraiser called Souper Sunday. She was inspired by the abundance of produce grown by her neighbors. 

"We learned that Maris Grove had a large number of planters we could use to grow plants. Everyone was so excited!" Toni recalls. "Many residents grew tomatoes. A lot of tomatoes."

She continues, "With so many tomatoes, John and I started thinking about what we could do with them. We spoke with Maris Grove's executive chef and asked him if he would make a large batch of soup with the surplus. We offered to sell the soup and donate the proceeds to the Resident Care Fund--and that's what we've done since 2007."

In those 17 years, Souper Sunday has raised over $56,000 for the Resident Care Fund.

Jumping in

Maris Grove's Resident Care Fund is designed to assist eligible residents who, through no fault of their own, outlive their resources. With the help of the fund, no one has ever been asked to leave the community because of a genuine inability to pay.

For Frank and Linda Spinelli, the Resident Care Fund was an important part of their decision to move to Maris Grove from the Rehoboth Beach, Del., area in 2022.

"The Resident Care Fund is a key benefit of life at Maris Grove. It ensures that residents really have a home for life. So, fundraisers like Souper Sunday mean a lot to the community," Frank says.

Soon after settling into their apartment home, Frank and Linda were eager to get involved. 

"When I learned about Toni's work with Souper Sunday, we volunteered to help her with loading, transporting, and unloading items for the event. We also help set up tables," he says. "We're grateful that Toni invests so much of her time to help others. This gift to the community is invaluable." 

A team effort

Among those items are Toni's many loaves of zucchini bread, which are always well received.

"In addition to the chef-made soup, Toni's zucchini bread is also popular at the event," Frank says. "She bakes about 75 loaves and they sell out every time. People line up for the bread early because they sell out so quickly!"

Frank also transports containers for volunteers to package up all the delicious goodies. 

"Each Souper Sunday is held on the first Sunday in August. After the chef prepares the tomato and vegetable soup, a group of residents form a production line--starting early Sunday morning--packaging the soup as well as chocolate chip cookies," he explains. "The residents who prepurchased vouchers can pick up their to-go packages starting at noon."

"Residents enjoy having homemade soup in their apartment homes," Toni says. "Many will purchase multiple vouchers so they can freeze the soup and save it for a cold day."

But the fun doesn't stop when Souper Sunday comes to an end.

"The entire month is devoted to fundraising," notes Toni. "Every Friday in August, I organize a Country Market where residents can purchase fresh produce, flower arrangements, and even eggs."

Sense of community

Ryan Doherty, the community's sales director, notes that resident-led, heartfelt initiatives like Souper Sunday is what makes Maris Grove unique. 

"Residents love coming together and supporting the community," he says. "Maris Grove prides itself on offering a home for life for our residents, and that's only possible with the help of our incredibly generous residents. Thanks to events like Souper Sunday, we can continuously deliver on that promise."

"Residents caring for residents is what Souper Sunday is all about," says Toni. "My neighbors are so kind and thoughtful; we enjoy taking care of each other."

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