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Heaven's Helpers Soup Cafe volunteers, from left, Theresa Martel, Michelle Fitterer and Winifred Heinen prepare the salad bar on Monday morning. "I come here to volunteer as often as I can. I'm retired so I like to do something with my time that's worthwhile," Martel said.

A local soup kitchen is looking for volunteers to ensure it can stay open during dinner hours this summer.

Heaven's Helpers Soup Cafe, at 220 N. 23rd St. in Bismarck, is a free-of-charge soup kitchen that serves people in need in the community. Volunteers serve the friendly cafe, but their numbers have been lacking as of late. 

“As soon as the warm weather hit, all of our volunteers just went whoosh, they’re out enjoying North Dakota,” founder and executive director Mark Meier said. “We need about 28 volunteers every day just to be able to make this run.”

Volunteers sign up for two-hour shifts, and do everything from waiting tables to chopping vegetables.

“I feel so blessed every time I’m here,” said Sheila Cleveland, who has been volunteering with Heaven’s Helpers since January. “It’s just so rewarding to work here, it really is.”

Aside from working with other volunteers, interactions with people in need are what the cafe is all about.

“There was a gentleman who came in who wasn’t able to see and couldn’t tell what was on our salad bar, so I just took him along and explained to him ‘we have these things, what do you want?’ and I dished up a plate for him,” Cleveland said. “That always stuck with me.”

Heaven’s Helpers has been serving the Bismarck community since 2009, when it moved into its former location on Memorial Highway. In January 2018, the kitchen moved to its current location.

“To me, seeing the young children volunteering is the best part,” Cleveland said, glancing at two young girls working meticulously in the kitchen. “I almost get emotional because it’s just so sweet to see the younger ones like that, their hearts.”

Heaven’s Helpers relies entirely on donations and volunteers, and the current lack of volunteers would cause the kitchen to be unable to provide for those in need during crucial times of the day.

Without volunteers to work from 6-8 p.m. this summer, the cafe's current hours of 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday would change to 11 a.m.-5 p.m., causing the cafe to miss dinner.

“The volunteer time is every two hours, and those two hours are the fastest you’ll ever have,” Cleveland said. “A lot of the time I sign up for two and stay for four. I would encourage anyone to come try it, and once you do, you’ll probably be hooked.”

For more information about Heaven’s Helpers or to volunteer, visit soupcafe.org, contact mark@soupcafe.org or call at 701-751-SOUP.

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