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Atlantic United Methodist’s lunch ‘Thursday must’

(Jan. 23, 2015) Make Atlantic United Methodist Church’s soup and sandwich fundraiser a “Thursday must” this winter.

The first fundraiser lunch of the new year on Jan. 15, vegetable beef, ham and bean and navy bean soup were served along with chicken and ham salad sandwiches. Dessert choices ranged from coconut cakes to pies.

A huge effort is made by the entire congregation with an estimated 30-40 volunteers helping to make the fundraiser a success.

Betty Kurka, 90, and Virginia Harmon, 94, have been cashiers for the Methodist Church’s soup and sandwich fundraiser since its inception.

“We enjoy helping the church and seeing people,” Harmon said.

Kurka added that they work in the church’s thrift shop a couple days a week, as well.

The preparation for these local lunch favorites starts at the beginning of the week, organizer Chuck Strang said. Shopping for the ingredients takes half a day on Monday. On Tuesday, they chop and cook the meat for chicken or ham salad sandwiches. Wednesday is when the soup and salads are made. Potatoes and carrots are peeled, in addition to chopping onions, celery and cabbage.

At 4:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, Strang, Pastor Joe Cain and a couple other men come to the church and start setting up for the day. The soup is completely built and the dining area is put together.

A team of people help make everything run smoothly on soup and salad fundraiser Thursdays. The biscuit maker arrives at 8 a.m. to make them from scratch. At 9 a.m., volunteers come in to start making sandwiches. There are people responsible for cutting desserts. Carryout volunteers start filling orders, which come in by phone, in person or by fax.  

When the fundraiser is over at 1 p.m., a team of people come in to help clean up and all leftovers are placed in coolers.

Strang spoke fondly of Pastor Cain, who he developed a friendship with through the church and participating in these fundraisers.

“Joe and I have been doing this fundraiser together since 2009. Six years is a long time and for us it’s a big week,” Strang said. “We have a good time doing it, busting on each other from start to finish and developing our friendship.”

No one had a definitive answer as to how long these soup and salad fundraisers have been going on, but the estimate was more than 40 years.

Local businesses in the area are big contributors to the sales of soups and sandwiches during this fundraiser. They will call and order 20-30 quarts of soup for their employees. The Town of Ocean City sends a carry-out fax each time the fundraiser is held. An estimated 75 to 100 people make carry-out orders each luncheon, carryout helpers said.

The number of people who are served by the wait staff volunteers depends on the weather and organizers usually see the same faces every date. They set up the tables for 80 and an estimated 100 people are served.

Guests should look forward to seeing chicken corn chowder and chicken noodle soup making appearances on the menu. Egg salad will become one of the sandwiches offered. Pepsi products and coffee are available for $1. Chocolate éclairs and cakes have been made in the past by members of the church.

“The women of this church are wonderful dessert makers. Who knows for sure what they will make, but it is guaranteed to be homemade and out of this world,” Strang said.

Atlantic United Methodist Church will be hosting three more lunches on Thursdays Jan. 29, Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sandwiches cost $4 and desserts $2. A 16-ounce soup with a biscuit costs $4 and a 32-ounce soup with two biscuits is $7.

The church is located at the corner of Fourth Street and Baltimore Ave. To make a carry-out order, call 410-289-7430 or fax the order to 410-289-8175. For questions, email atlanticumc@atlanticumc.org.

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