By: Litsa Pappas
WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — A Bridgewater man is lending a helping hand to the homeless in a big way this winter.
Known as “Soup Man,” Peter Kelleher delivers warm clothes and food with his own bus full of donations.
What looks like a walk-in closet, full of jackets, shoes and scarves is actually Kelleher’s bus.
“It’s set up like a closet, everything’s sized,” said Kelleher. “This is full of brand new socks.”
It all started as a way for Kelleher to give back after losing his son Travis to the opioid epidemic back in 2016. He started by making soup for the homeless, which is where he got the nickname Soup Man.
“It was the homeless people that named him the Soup Man, they’d get all excited and say, ‘The Soup Man’s here the Soup Man’s here,’ so that’s where he got his title of the Soup Man,” said Amanda Souza, the Board Director at Support the Soup Man.
Travis, ultimately, is the fuel for Kelleher’s work.
“He has put me to work, I work for him; Travis is my passion, he’s my drive I work pretty much 24 hours a day,” said Kelleher.
Kelleher says he spends anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 on brand new boots every week for the homeless. He also employs a team of people who help put together bags full of new toiletries for those in need.
But it doesn’t stop with the donations.
Kelleher recently created a portable shower trailer with three stalls that offers hot showers to those stuck in the cold.
“I knocked on doors and raised close to $50,000, Honda-motor company gave us the $5,000 generator,” said Kelleher.
“We did over 500 toiletry kits in three hours,” said Souza. “These kits will go into backpacks that Peter will distribute throughout the community with hats and gloves also.”
The efforts to keep the homeless fed and warm are a weekly battle, where the team serves hundreds of people in need across New England – whether it be with toiletries, clothing or hot lunches.
“It’s just grown tremendously and it’s all from the community,” said Souza.
Now, Kelleher hopes to get more grant money so he can find even more ways to help others.
“I have so much more I want to do, let me tell you this is just the beginning,” said Kelleher.
Kelleher’s non-profit is always looking for donations if you’d like to help.