PITTSBURG — Local volunteers served soup and chili to community members who came out to support their less fortunate neighbors on Thursday for the 32nd annual Project Warmth at Memorial Auditorium.

Project Warmth, which is organized by the Pittsburg Ministerial Association, serves an average of 500 to 600 bowls of chili and soup, along with a variety of pies, to guests who pay $7 to attend the charity event.

“That money and then other money that’s donated by sponsors goes to help those in Crawford County who are having difficulty paying their utility bills,” said Tom Wehrman, pastor at St. John Lutheran Church.

Last year's Project Warmth was able to assist 69 families with more than $8,000 raised.

Aside from the Pittsburg Ministerial Association, and Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army, which are the distributing agencies for funds raised at the event, other sponsors include Barone’s Heat & Air, Sodexo Campus Services at Pittsburg State University, Jayhawk Signs & Graphics, Ascension Via Christi, Crawford County Mental Health, Signet Coffee Roasters, Pairott Head Liquor, along with local Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and several area churches.

“Without the funds raised by the Pittsburg Ministerial Association that runs through Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army there would be a lot of folks that would be shut off during the winter months and not have any heat in their homes,” said Casey Brown, Catholic Charities program director for Southeast Kansas services, “so this is an essential event and even though this is a one-day event, that need’s not going to go away anytime soon.”