St. Patrick's Day Parade Association to collect food for Safe Harbor Soup Kitchen

BAY CITY, MI -- The Bay City St. Patrick's Day Parade begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, but before it begins, you can help make some less fortunate people in the area feel a little lucky.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade Association and the Safe Harbor Soup Kitchen are teaming up to collect canned foods, non-perishable items and money donations to help the less fortunate in the area.

Just prior to the parade starting, trucks will drive down Center Avenue looking for donations. Those donations will then be taken to Safe Harbor Soup Kitchen, located at Riverwalk Baptist Church at 706 Joseph St. in Bay City.

"We are happy with whatever comes in (at the parade), whatever the community is able to bring," said Chad Cunningham, one of the founders of the food kitchen. "Bay City are wonderful and giving people."

Cunningham added the project has received support from local businesses and community leaders around Bay County.

Safe Harbor serves dinner every Monday and Tuesday night, usually serving to around 80 to 100 people. The pantry serves between 150 to 220 boxes of food every Monday. 

Safe Harbor Kitchen, serving needy in Bay City's Banks District, now open

BAY CITY, MI -- A food pantry and soup kitchen on Bay City's West Side, given a jump start by donors at Bay City's St. Patrick's Day Parade, is now up and running on Monday evenings.

Safe Harbor Kitchen is located at Riverwalk Baptist Church, 706 Joseph St., in the Banks District. A meal is served at 6 p.m. each Monday evening. Guests are given nonperishable food items once per month.

Safe Harbor Kitchen

What: Safe Harbor Kitchen, 706 Joseph St. in Bay City's Banks District

When: Doors open at 5:30 p.m. on Monday evenings. Dinner is served at 6 p.m.

Info: Financial gifts and donations of nonperishable food items can be made by calling 989-894-1189.

More information is available online at www.safeharborkitchen.com

Past meals have included pizza, chicken and spaghetti, with guests welcomed by music from volunteer performers.

"The doors open at 5:30 p.m., and everyone comes in and sits down, and there's a guitar and a keyboard and the kids are singing songs, so there's entertainment," said Chad Cunningham, a Safe Harbor founder. "At 6 p.m., everybody serves everyone that's sitting. They don't have to go up buffet-style, the drinks are brought to them and the buffet is brought to them."

Safe Harbor opened four weeks ago, Cunningham said, its founding greatly aided by about 2,000 pounds of nonperishable food items collected during the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Since then, the group has worked to make a difference in the surrounding neighborhood. According to officials at Linsday Elementary School -- just one block away -- 81 percent of the 342 students at the school qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

Those seeking to support Safe Harbor can contact organizers with monetary donations or food items by calling 989-894-1189. Cunningham said River Roar, slated for June 26 and 27 along the Saginaw River in Bay City, is to offer opportunities to donate food items to the kitchen.

Steve Roe, pastor at Riverwalk Baptist Church, said the future for the kitchen is a full-fledged community center. The next step in that direction, he said, would be larger facilities with space for food storage and a "clothing pantry."

Right now, though, the pastor said he's pleased with how well the program has taken off; the soup kitchen is seeing about 80 guests per week.

"Our clientele, it's not been just financially struggling, but people who don't socially fit in. We've created a little family," he said. "Everybody that has helped the program ... they all express that there's such a gratifying feeling of serving the community and helping others."