GREENFIELD — Cora Sitton carefully counted all the money herself, laying each type of bill in little piles.
Cora, 7, couldn’t hold back her smile as her parents, Kristina and Jay Sitton, confirmed the total — nearly $800 from her lemonade stand and all for a good cause. Cora recently donated the proceeds to the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen, to help the organization cover unexpected repairs before winter.
For Jill Ebbert, executive director of the soup kitchen, said efforts like Cora’s demonstrate the community’s support for the kitchen, which kitchen officials will lean on as they eye an $18,000 estimate to replace half of the building’s roof at 202 E. Main St. Donors have chipped in about $8,000 so far.
Workers at the soup kitchen, who have served 153,000 meals there since the organization opened in 2009, feared something was wrong with the roof because water had begun to destroy the walls in a storage area and seeped down as far down as the basement, Ebbert said. Several consultants inspected the roof but couldn’t pinpoint the problem.
“The plaster and lath was disintegrating and falling, and it became a safety concern,” Ebbert said. “We can’t let it go because it’s getting worse and worse.”
Finally, a roofing expert discovered condensation gathering in a 6-inch gap between the roof and ceiling on the back of the building, Ebbert said.
The roofing expert recommended a commercial rubber roof system that will eliminate water build-up, she said. However, the system must be installed before the temperature falls below 50 degrees because of the type of rubber used, a complication that adds even more urgency to the situation, Ebbert said.
Ebbert has applied for grants to help with the project, but in the meantime, she also posted to Facebook about the soup kitchen’s troubles in hopes community members, who have regularly stocked the kitchen’s pantry and volunteered to serve meals, could help.
The soup kitchen has an upcoming bowling fundraiser, but the money from that typically goes toward the kitchen’s $132,000 annual operating budget, Ebbert said; she feared the organization would fall short in covering its operating costs if all the proceeds of the fundraiser went toward the roof.
“This $18,000 unexpected cost is not something our budget can handle without your help,” she wrote. “I’m trying to reach 1,800 people to donate $10 each so we can continue our mission in a safe, well-maintained building.”
“I was feeling particularly desperate that day,” she said.
Within the first 24 hours of posting her plea, more than 1,000 people had seen it, she said.
And many had asked how they could help.
“I’m grateful the community is just so good to us,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
Cora Sitton and her family are among many of what she called angels to the kitchen.
Jay Sitton, Cora’s dad, had built Cora’s lemonade stand over the winter, he said; the completion of the project happened to coincide with Park Chapel Christian Church’s Serve Day, an event in which parishioners were encouraged to perform service projects throughout the community.
Encouraging his daughter to use her efforts to benefit a local charity seemed liked a logical step.
Kristina Sitton asked Cora what she would do with the money if she earned it through the lemonade stand, and the second-grader chose to donate it toward the soup kitchen, she said.
Those interested in helping the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen with the cost of roof repairs can donate through PayPal at kbmsk.org by indicating “roof repair” in the purpose space.
Donations may also be dropped off at 202 E. Main St., Greenfield, Indiana, 46140, or mailed. All donations are acknowledged with a tax deductible receipt.