Because He Lives fundraiser moves to All Saints Parish Saturday

Because He Lives fundraiser moves to All Saints Parish Saturday

WOONSOCKET - Terry McKenna has been holding fundraisers for Because He Lives Ministries for the past 18 or 19 years - but who's counting?

"It's hard to keep track," McKenna told The Breeze.

The annual charity event brings together members of the community to help out the city's less fortunate just before the holidays, and is the local soup kitchen's major source of funding each year.

McKenna, former owner of Terry's Auto at Monument Square and now a retired Florida resident, has always held the event in the auto and tire center's parking lot, even after selling the business to Gil Denomme in 2004.

But on Saturday, Nov. 23, the fundraiser will move indoors to the same location as the soup kitchen itself: All Saints Parish on Rathbun Street.

McKenna and other volunteers will be on site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. serving up dynamites and hot dogs and selling raffle tickets for prizes including a 32-inch smart TV, an iPad, and tickets for a Conway Bus tour to New York City. There will also be a penny social and a lottery tree, plus a variety of home-baked pastries and treats available for sale just in time for the holidays.

The group will also be collecting donations for the food pantry, including cash and checks, dry or canned goods, and, especially, gift cards to local supermarkets.

"They're a lot easier to store than a turkey," joked McKenna.

According to the organizer, there's a greater need than usual for the help this year, as donations to Because He Lives have been unusually low.

"This is kind of a tough year, because I guess the donations were off," said McKenna. "It's the economy and the way things have been in the city. I am hoping people can really step up. They do every year, but if they can throw in a little extra, this would be a great year to do it."

McKenna said he's always impressed by how members of the community jump in to help. Roger Lapierre of Li'l General Stores has donated soda every year since the charity began and print media outlets donate space to advertise the event. WNRI Radio 1380 broadcasts portions of the event live and individuals and charitable organizations donated plenty of raffle prizes. This year, Mount St. Charles Academy has donated several of the pastries available for sale.

Between food and monetary donations, it's unclear how much McKenna has raised over the years to help the soup kitchen, which serves around 15,000 meals annually, feeding between 75 and 100 of the city's hungry daily.

The retired salesman says he's glad city residents show up for the cause and does not venture a guess as to how much they'll raise.

"It's what the good people of Woonsocket and the surrounding community want to give us," he said.

The ministry has existed solely through donations, and does not accept state or federal funds. For those who cannot attend the event, but would like to donate to the soup kitchen, checks can be mailed to Because He Lives Ministry, PO Box 37, Woonsocket, RI, 02895.