Downtown Sudbury doesn't deserve a bad rap, says business owner

Five downtown Sudbury restaurants and hundreds of students volunteered for 'Warm Soup For Warm Hearts.' A human chain passed bowls of soup hand-to-hand through the downtown core to the Blue Door Soup Kitchen.

Human chain of volunteers pass hundreds of bowls of soup through downtown Sudbury

Several business owners in downtown Sudbury, along with students from Marymount Academy, formed a human chain to pass homemade soup to a mission on Elgin Street. 1:08

"Downtown Sudbury is actually a really cool place," says Deke Zaher.

The owner of Zaher's Small Batch Hummus thinks the downtown has been getting a bad rap.

So today, on one of the coldest days of the year so far, Zaher and some of his fellow business owners set out to do something special.

When another business owner, Sue Peters of the Cedar Nest Café, experienced a series of unfortunate events — vandalism, a break-in, and the theft of her laptop — she said she was either going to go down or go up. And she decided to go up.

Peters turned the negativity into something positive, and today, working with Zaher, was part of a human chain of 'warm soup for warm hearts.'

A human chain of volunteers, roughly 350 of them from the all-girls school Marymount Academy, passed containers of soup hand-to- hand through the downtown along Elgin Street from Zaher's shop to the Blue Door Soup Kitchen. 

Deke Zaher, owner of Small Batch Hummus, says the 'Warm Soup For Warm Hearts' event brought the downtown together. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Zaher says the idea was to "get a bunch of local businesses involved, donate one pot of soup each, get a bunch of volunteers, and make a human chain warming up the heart of our downtown Sudbury, and ultimately delivering it to the people who need it the most."

Peters said five restaurants were involved with today's 'warm soup for warm hearts' along with her and Zaher's businesses — Respect Is Burning, Peppi Panini and Peddler's Pub, despite the fire that recently damaged it. 

"I've actually never really been involved with anything like this," said Peters. "It's fantastic."

Zaher says what he saw today was a lot of unity. 

"I saw downtown Sudbury coming together," he said. "Today we had a small army . . . warming up the heart of the city," he added.

Standing at the end of the line at the soup kitchen, Zaher said the experience was overwhelming, leaving him feeling astonished and beyond grateful.

He estimates that 250 to 300 bowls of soup were passed hand-to-hand.

When asked if 'warm soup for warm hearts' would happen next year, Zaher said "absolutely."

"We know there'll be another one, and another one after that," he added. 


With files from Casey Stranges


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