Manager’s passion to serve continues at soup kitchen

Donna Slider, of the Village of Sunset Pointe and former manager of the Wildwood Soup Kitchen, passed away earlier this year from breast cancer.

Donna Slider was the first in and the last to leave the Wildwood Soup Kitchen. 

The former manager of the soup kitchen always made sure everyone left with a full belly and a lot of love. 

Earlier this year, the Village of Sunset Pointe resident passed away from breast cancer, leaving a void for all those she touched. 

The Wildwood Soup Kitchen, hosted by First Presbyterian Church of Wildwood and run by volunteers, usually helps feed about 200-300 people in Sumter County, at no cost for those in need, each day it is open for service. 

The kitchen, located at 203 Barwick St., currently is open in a limited capacity and COVID-19 has reduced the number served to about 150. The kitchen also provides free home delivery meals to Wildwood residents confined to their homes.

“Donna was there to do anything for anyone at any time,” said Barb McManus, president of the Wildwood Soup Kitchen. “She didn’t know how to say ‘no’. She was just an amazing person.”

McManus said Slider’s passion for the soup kitchen helped to encourage all the other volunteers. 

“I worked with her for about five years,” the Village of St. Charles resident said. “She was in charge of anything in the kitchen, and I at the time was the volunteer coordinator for the home deliveries. She always had us laughing.”

Without Slider, you can completely feel the void, as all the clients and the volunteer staff loved her, she said. 

“I can still feel her presence,” McManus said. 

Diane Davis, organizer of Busy Bakers, said she will greatly miss the conversations she had with Donna when she would drop off treats for the clients.

“If there was ever a person who was selfless, it was Donna,” the Village of Lynnhaven resident said. 

Davis said she feels most of the success of the soup kitchen was reflected in the work Slider did.

“She really had her arm around the soup kitchen,” she said. “It was like her second family and it showed. She loved working with and seeing all the clients as they formed special places in her heart.”

Helena Stone has volunteered at the soup kitchen for about three years and worked under Slider. When she heard the news about Slider’s passing, she was terribly saddened and shocked.

“Donna was an amazing woman,” the Village of Liberty Park resident said. “She made each one of us feel like we were part of a family. Even the clients that come in for meals, are like our extended family. Bless the woman, she will be terribly missed.”

Donna took volunteers under her wing and would mentor them.

“We are all going to miss her, because she brought so much energy to the kitchen,” Stone said as she began to tear up. 

Slider also was passionate about the children in the schools, making sure each one was fed during the summers with the snack pack program.

“We have had to put the snack pack program on hold for now,” said McManus. “It was a program Donna oversaw so children from low-income families wouldn’t go hungry, but that doesn’t mean we won’t start it back up later this year.”

While the kitchen is looking for a manager, McManus currently is overseeing production.

Whoever takes that position is going to have a hard time filling Slider’s shoes, McManus said. 

Staff writer Andrea Davis can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5374, or andrea.davis@thevillagesmedia.com.