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Helping the helpers: 'Soup Lady' serves hot food to first responders

Published: Monday, Sept. 30 2013 7:10 p.m. MDT

Based in Black Diamond, Wash., Ginger Passarelli is always prepared to ladle out hot soup for the police and firemen who spend several days responding to a tragedy or catastrophe.

Cedar Fort

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As part of its Difference Maker series, the Christian Science Monitor chose Friday to profile Ginger Passarelli — the leader of a team of volunteers calling themselves the Soup Ladies who arrive on disaster scenes and serve thousands of hot meals to first responders who get stuck at remote sites for days at a time.

“Ms. Passarelli is a modern good Samaritan with a soup ladle,” Gail Wood reported for the Monitor. “Whenever there's an emergency, whether it's a house fire, a missing hiker, or a search for a criminal on the run, you can bet that Passarelli is there, feeding the firefighters, policemen, or search-and-rescue crews. … For rescue crews and other emergency responders in the Seattle area, Passarelli is the solution to a hungry stomach. When crews are out on call for several days, Passarelli and her band of Soup Ladies come to the rescue, serving hot meals to emergency response teams.”

Wood’s article hinted at, but never fully addressed, Passarelli’s faith. For example, the first time she volunteered at a disaster site was in 2005 when her “pastor asked for volunteers to fly to New Orleans to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.”

Even though much of her service takes place in the state of Washington, the Kent Reporter detailed two weeks ago that Passarelli and her Soup Ladies have been on-location to volunteer in the aftermath of natural disasters such as “Hurricanes Katrina, Gustov, Ike, and Sandy; California wildfires; a 2006 windstorm and 2009 flooding in Washington State; and the 2013 Oklahoma tornados.”

A 2011 article in the Covington Reporter included a photograph of Passarelli stirring pots of pasta with a sanitized shovel.

Recalling the shovel-stirring episode — which took place during May 2011 in Joplin, Mo., after a mile-wide tornado left a swath of utter destruction in its wake — Passarelli told the Covington Reporter, “We went to a store and bought two driveway turkey friers so we could cook pasta. I got back to the camp and we had nothing to stir the pasta with so I went back into the building and got a brand new shovel and sanitized it. We had nothing else to stir with. You do what you have to do.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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