First Christian Church - Stone Soup

First Christian Church Stone Soup in Corvallis, Oregon

In First Christian Church Basement:

Tuesday 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Saturday 10:00am - 11:00am
Sunday 5:30pm - 6:30pm

    General Information

Stone Soup Sign-Up / Volunteer:

  • Ways to Help:
  • Serve as Lead Cook
  • Donate Food Items
  • Saturday Breakfasts and Sunday Dinners:
    Clean-up/Restoring Room

    Contact Information

Mailing Address:

602 SW Madison Ave. Corvallis, OR. 97330

Phone number:

(541) 753-2671

    Map & Directions

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In The News

South African youth get lessons in local service

First Christian Church.

By GAIL COLE, Corvallis Gazette-Times | Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 7:30 am

Members from the First Congregational Church who prepared and served Stone Soup's daily meal Tuesday evening at First Christian Church had an extra set of helping hands: eight South African high school students and two chaperones.

The group provided solid help by slicing and buttering rolls, chopping vegetables for salad and the casseroles, washing dishes and serving food. All the while, they chatted with volunteers.

The students, ages 15 to 18, are in the middle of a two-week visit to Benton County that began Feb. 12 as part of the Youth Leadership Program. The program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and administered by the States' 4-H International Exchange Programs.

It's the first time that Benton County's 4-H has hosted students through the program, which aims to show the visiting students American interpretations of leadership and civic engagement.

In addition to the evening volunteering with Stone Soup, they've met with city and state government officials and visited the high schools of their respective host siblings' at Crescent Valley High School, Philomath High School and West Albany High School.

Thursday, the group is scheduled to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore and Linn Benton Food Share. The group will create a newsletter of their time in Benton County and give a final presentation Friday evening at Oregon State University's LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St.

The lesson in service seems to complement the students' already thorough volunteer work - part of the reason why they were selected for the prestigious program.

For example, Michke-Leigh Heugh, 16, has done work through her church, organized youth forums and helped raise money for charity through her school's Lions Club International Chapter. Mitchelle Mamphoka, 17, has mentored younger students and helps assist local elderly in nursing homes, an activity she's particularly proud of.

First Christian Church."I feel now it's our turn to look after them," Mamphoka said.

"Being a leader isn't just about leading - it's about learning," Heugh added.

While the students had a bit of a shock after learning about American high schools - "They have an hour and a half in one lesson!" Mamphoka said of West Albany's class periods - many enjoyed meeting members of local government.

Last week, the group met Mayor Julie Manning, City Councilor Biff Traber and County Commissioner Jay Dixon. They also toured the state capitol in Salem and met Rep. Sarah Gelser, Secretary of State Kate Brown and Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul De Muniz.

For some of the female students, seeing women in leadership roles was especially energizing.

"I got inspired," said Fortunate Tshirangwana, 16, who wants to get into a career in politics. "It gave me hope. Times are changing."

Youth volunteers lend a hand

By Rachel Beck, Gazette-Times reporter December 28, 2009

It was 5:34 p.m. Sunday, and a line of people snaked around a room in First Christian Church. Everyone was waiting for dinner, most unaware that whether they got any partly depended on four teenage girls.

At 5:35 p.m., the kitchen opened and volunteers began dishing out spaghetti, garlic bread and salad. Though the food was a few minutes later than usual, the patrons were nothing but grateful.

"Thank you so much for your service," one man said.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you," said another. "God bless you ladies."

The servers, who had also had a hand in the cooking, were members of the Youth Volunteer Corps operated by Corvallis Parks and Recreation.

Chrysthanthemum Mattison, an AmeriCorps member, works for Parks and Recreation and organizes the Volunteer Youth Corps during school months. A big part of Mattison's job is finding volunteer opportunities for the kids and she thought working at Stone Soup would be a fun, hands-on activity.

"I had heard some people saying they had come to Stone Soup before and really liked it," she said.

"It also exposes the kids to a reality they don't normally see."

Due to space constraints, only a few volunteers could accompany Mattison to the kitchen.

Alejandra Gonzalez, Charlotte Fisher, Ana Berst and Morgan Engle helped make the food; dished it out to patrons; and eventually cleaned up.

Stone Soup meal coordinator Sue Schulz, known as "Stone Soup" Sue, had the girls busy chopping apples for a homemade cake as soon as they walked into the kitchen.

It was fine for Charlotte, 17.

"I like to bake," she said.

Mattison said the group has done 35 events in the past three months, totalling more than 800 volunteer hours.

That equates to about five people working full-time jobs, she said.

"So, you're adding five more people to the economy," she said.

It's her job to help utilize the "slightly tapped" resource of youth volunteers, a task that one person can't fully complete.

To illustrate her point, she notes that many more kids wanted to volunteer at the kitchen, there just wasn't enough room.

Mattison has about 260 people on her e-mail list; nearly 150 kids have participated in Youth Volunteer Corps activities in the past three months.

Gonzalez is especially dedicated.

The 16-year-old has worked at least 13 events so far this year. In the fall, she told Mattison that she wanted to volunteer at every opportunity.

"I like to help," she said.

Schulz said she thinks volunteering is a good way for young adults to learn about the world.

The kitchen often has volunteers who are Oregon State University students, she said, many of whom start out volunteering to fulfill course requirements. But they find that they like it, and come back to help - even after they've graduated. Plus, the kitchen can use the help.

More people come in for meals when it's cold out, Schulz said. A daytime drop-in center also is located at First Christian Church, and in cold weather people seem to stick close by the building, returning for meals more often than in warm months.

"The holidays don't affect things as much as the weather," she said. "In Corvallis, we have our chronically homeless group that doesn't have anywhere else to be."

None of the teen helpers Sunday were among that group, but they were happy to be at the kitchen that night.

"It's something to do, and it's fun and it's rewarding," said Berst. "I like being involved in my community and knowing what's up in Corvallis."

The gift of time

By Jennifer Nitson | Gazette-Times reporter December 26, 2007

Stone Soup volunteers turn out on Christmas to feed the hungry

The crisp white table cloths, garlands of greenery and white twinkling Christmas lights cheerfully complemented the red upholstered chairs and carpet of the dining room at First Christian Church on Sixth Street on Tuesday evening.

Though they did not know how many were coming for the Stone Soup Christmas dinner, a dozen volunteers busily worked to prepare a meal for about 100 hungry Corvallis residents.

Half of the volunteers stood around a stainless steel counter peeling potatoes. Armed with peelers and paring knives, they made quick work of more than 50 pounds of potatoes.

"Doing something for someone else on Christmas Day is the ultimate gift," said LoErna Simpson of Corvallis, half-peeled potato in hand.

"I'm looking forward to celebrating Christmas with family in Texas tomorrow," she said. "Today I can give the gift of time."

With food donated by the community, from Linn-Benton Food Share and purchased by the non-profit Stone Soup free-meal-assistance program, an elaborate feast was in the works.

Ham, turkey and all the trimmings, including scalloped potatoes and green beans, followed by peach pies made for a yummy and well-rounded meal. Lochmead Dairy donated several gallons of egg nog and chocolate milk for the occasion - a significant donation and a special treat, said Stone Soup meal coordinator Sue Schulz.

Fleece blankets, gloves, hats and socks were also available to all comers.

"Everybody gets a new pair of socks for Christmas," Schulz said.

Stone Soup has been serving meals to the hungry in Corvallis for 25 years. Meals are served daily, either at the St. Mary's school gym at 501 N.W. 25th St. or at the First Christian Church at 602 S.W. Madison Ave.

"It's run completely by volunteers," Schulz said.


St. Mary's school gym

501 N.W. 25th St.

* Monday, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

* Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

* Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

* Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

First Christian Church

602 S.W. Madison Ave.

* Tuesday, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

* Saturday, 10 to 11 a.m.

* Sunday, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Stone Soup Sue’ wages war on hunger

March 10, 2007

The meals coordinator says she’s "been fed by feeding others"
If it weren’t for Sue Schulz, hundreds of people in Corvallis would go hungry on the weekends.

As the Stone Soup coordinator at First Christian Church, Schulz is responsible for planning menus and recruiting workers to host a Saturday breakfast and Sunday dinner each week. She also helps secure food for the Circle of Hope drop-in center for residents coping with mental illness or homelessness.

“It’s hard to imagine so many people living in the Willamette Valley can be hungry, but they are,” Schulz said.

Every other Friday, Schulz arrives at the church around 9 a.m. to welcome the Linn-

BentonFood Share van carrying up to 600 pounds of food “rescued” from Oregon State University’s food service and catering departments. Everything from pizza to meatballs to leftover casseroles and vegetable dishes might show up in sealed tubs, which Schulz sorts through before deciding each weekend’s menu. What she can’t use immediately, she freezes for future weekends.

Flexibility is the key, Schulz said.

“We just take what we have,” she said, “and turn it into something that will feed everyone.”

Thebiggest surprise one week was a large amount of sauerkraut, which she served with hot dogs. Luckily, she said, one of her cooks had a great recipe for chocolate cake made with sauerkraut.

Schulz got involved with the church’s meal ministry when she and her husband became members 25 years ago. She volunteered to help with Meals on Wheels and took her two preschool daughters with her to deliver food to shut-ins.

Now she’s passing on a legacy of helping the less fortunate to her grandchildren. Her youngest, Elliana, frequently helps her sort through food deliveries and “shop” at the Linn-Benton Food Share warehouse. The others help during the summer or when they are out of school.

Not a day goes by that she’s not asked to pick up a donation from a local business, called by a volunteer who needs to reschedule, or planning, cooking or serving meals herself. But Schulz wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Until you’ve handed a plate of food to a hungry person ... ,” she said. “It just fills you up. I have truly been fed by feeding others.”

Carol Reeves covers religion for the Gazette-Times.

Sue Schulz
Age: 55.
Residence: Corvallis.
Occupation: Retired elementary school cook.
Family: Husband Bob; daughters Lisa Schulz and Amy Berry; four grandchildren.
Hobbies: Skiing, fishing and hiking with her husband.
Misc.: Known around town as “Stone Soup Sue” for her soup kitchen work; pies are her favorite food to prepare.

Giving time for the greater good

By Wendy Geist | Gazette-Times reporter September 22, 2004

Downtown church to add Sunday to its stone soup meals

In the old story of stone soup, a wandering stranger came to a village where people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find. Everyone told him there was not one bite to eat in the entire province. He took a stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into an iron cauldron filled with water. Everyone in the village ended up donating different vegetables and meats, turning the stone and the water into a hearty soup.

The moral of the story is that, with everyone contributing, a greater good is achieved.

The congregation of First Christian Church at 602 S.W. Madison Ave. has been making enough stone soup to feed around 70 hungry people every Saturday morning. The free meals — which go far beyond soup — include ingredients from the pantry of the St. Mary's stone soup kitchen, eggs and butter brought in by church members who purchased the items on sale, donated fruits and veggies, and a lot of elbow grease.

Now, after more than a year of operating the Saturday breakfast program, First Christian has decided to add a Sunday dinner starting Oct. 3. Students from Oregon State University and the OSU Committee on Poverty and Hunger will volunteer their time preparing and serving the additional weekly meal.

This will extend Corvallis' stone soup program to seven days a week. St. Mary's Catholic Church, 501 N.W. 25th St., currently serves 30 to 50 people four days a week, with dinner Mondays and Thursdays and lunch Wednesdays and Fridays. Local churches, including First Christian, share the preparation of the Tuesday dinner at the Westminster House, 101 N.W. 23rd St.

But in order to continue cooking the Saturday breakfast along with the additional Sunday dinner, First Christian needs to remodel its kitchen. The building doesn't have adequate ventilation to install a commercial stove and lacks a floor sink to dispose of mop water. The Benton County Health Department issued the church a restaurant license with the understanding that a new kitchen was in the works.

The church needs $220,000 to remodel the kitchen in the 80-year-old building. Around $145,000 has already been collected from the congregation and various grants. In order to reach their goal, church members need to collect another $75,000.

Proceeds from the church's 10th annual craft fair this weekend, which coincides with the Corvallis Fall Festival in nearby Central Park, will go toward the kitchen renovation. The church has lined up 52 vendors to display their wares on the street, lawn and parking lot adjacent to the church. Church members will also sell used books, craft items, pottery and food. In previous years, proceeds from the event have supported a variety of causes.

First Christian Church sees serving stone soup meals as part of its mission, which is to seek out, develop and support ministries to meet the human needs for physical and spiritual wholeness. As a downtown church, the congregation became aware of a growing population of homeless people.
"We had more and more hungry and homeless people coming into the building for coffee and a place to sleep," said church member Sue Schulz, one of four lead Stone Soup cooks. "Several people were hunting for Easter eggs when we hid them for the children in the churchyard. It was really apparent that the need was there.

"St. Mary's does a wonderful job five days a week. They were maxed out and couldn't extend themselves further," said Schulz, explaining why First Christian extended the program. The congregation was concerned that there weren't many places for the homeless and hungry to get a hot meal during the weekend.

Last Saturday, a dozen volunteers at First Christian served scrambled eggs, sausage patties, fresh cantaloupe and tomatoes, sweet rolls, zucchini and onions, hashbrowns, coffee, tea and juice to a room full of hungry people. The spacious room, with its eight large round tables and more than 50 upholstered chairs, provides a comfy respite for those enjoying a meal.

Steve Johnson, a homeless man from Corvallis, said he eats at First Christian every Saturday morning.
"It's a nice place to have coffee and get a bite to eat. If there are people that can't get food stamps or don't make enough in cans, it's just one of a few places to eat."

Sitting at the same table that morning was Rick Kleinosky, who said he's known as "the Caveman." Kleinosky has been in Corvallis for eight years and has only lived indoors for about three of those years. He frequently takes advantage of Safeway's club card to stretch his food budget. For $4.99, he said, he can buy a deli sandwich that will last more than one meal. With the club card, after purchasing his seventh sub, he gets one free.

But for Johnson, even budget sandwiches are out of reach.

"That's a little expensive for my blood," he said.

By expanding its Stone Soup program to Sunday, Johnson said, First Christian Church is filling a need in the community.

"You (fend) for yourself on Sundays," he said.

Some other places that provide meals to those in need include Community Outreach Inc. Open three times a day, seven days a week, the Community Outreach shelter at 865 N.W. Reiman Ave. sees 10 to 20 people a day at breakfast and lunch and during evening open-kitchen hours. On Sundays, the shelter stays open for breakfast an hour longer than usual.

Tom Garbacik, lead cook last Saturday and a deacon in the church, said the breakfasts have been well attended.

While the turnout averages about 70, First Christian Church served 114 four weeks ago, on the last Saturday of August. The end of the month always brings more people.

"I think we're making a difference in terms of community hunger," Garbacik said. "We are open to anybody. We don't ask, and we don't evangelize."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 18:55