According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Ray made a stop in Wilmington, as part of a road trip she is doing with Cincinnati native Nick Lachey; the two are visiting 20 cities in 10 days for "The Rachael Ray Show." But Ray didn't just pop by for a visit.
"She said, 'We've got a bigger surprise for you. If you go out in your kitchen right now, Carter Oosterhouse is out there and he wants to redo your kitchen.' So we went out and we were really surprised," says Willoughby.
Over the course of nine days, Oosterhouse (the resident handyman on "The Rachael Ray Show"), Lachey, and a whole crew rebuilt the space, installing new shelves and appliances and, according to Willoughby, generally making it an easier space to work in. During the remodel, people were fed at a kitchen at the First Baptist Church in Wilmington.
The do-gooding didn't stop there. Ray, in conjunction with Sara Lee, will also be making sure the place has food for the next year, and the help couldn't have come at a better time. The day that Holidash spoke with Willoughby, the kitchen had served nearly 500 people. Six months ago, a big day would have been 200. "I was so overwhelmed, because we've never done that," said Willoughby. "It was so timely for them to redo our kitchen and our dining room and make more space, because we made it. It took us more time but we made it today."
Willoughby is excited to provide more well-rounded meals now that Sara Lee is providing food. "We'll get their pies and all their breads and bakery goods and meats," he told us. "It's going to be great."
Wilmington has been hit with a 15 percent unemployment rate after parcel delivery service DHL and other businesses left town, and the soup kitchen set up to help those in hard times was having its own problems keeping up with demand. The Enquirer said the kitchen is seeing as many people in one day as it did in one week compared to this time last year.
"The town has been devastated," Ray told the Enquirer, "We want to do something for them that will last much longer than one meal, one day."
The continuing commitment to Our Father's Kitchen is a nice touch. It's easy for celebrities to drop in for a day and help out while the cameras are rolling, and indeed, the stop will be featured on an episode of Ray's show, to air the day before Thanksgiving. But helping to feed people most in need for a year is something to be proud of.
Want to know how you can help? Contact FeedingAmerica or Share Our Strength to find food banks and soup kitchens in your community.