A sizable crowd with good appetites and generous hearts turned out in force to attend the 6th annual Faithful Friends Animal Advocates (FFAA) Souper Supper on Saturday. According to FFAA vice-president and spokesperson Jill Denefrio everything was more this year.

A sizable crowd with good appetites and generous hearts turned out in force to attend the 6th annual Faithful Friends Animal Advocates (FFAA) Souper Supper on Saturday. According to FFAA vice-president and spokesperson Jill Denefrio everything was more this year.
"We had more soup, more chili, and the most participants  ever for the chili cook off," Denefrio said. "And, this year, because people kept asking for it, we added chili to the soup line too."
Twenty-four different soups and chilis were available for those who purchased an $8 entry ticket to the event. Soups included vegetarian, cream based and broth based varieties. Many of the soups were homemade by a number of different individual but some were also donated by area restaurants including The Bayou in Monett, Great Western Dining at Crowder College, and Cafe Angelica in Neosho.
"When we first started (the event), we thought we would go the restaurant route," Denefrio said, "But that hasn't ever taken off."
Carol House was in charge of the chili cook off portion of the event this year. "This is the first one I'e done," she said. "But it will be the first of many."
Ten participants vied their chili cooking skills for bragging rights and some handmade trophies.
Each chili recipe proved to be as unique as the individual cooks. Offerings included venison chili, some with celery as an ingredient, and some with corn chips. Most had varying combinations of meat and beans with seasonings ranging from mild to spicy.
According to Denefrio, there were also more volunteers this year, many of them high school students from the area. Some were members of Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) from Seneca and McDonald County high schools. The largest number were members of the Neosho High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (AFJROTC).  Each year, Major Bryce Langley, their ROTC instructor, has brought students out to help. "We have a big crew from ROTC," Denefrio said. "Their energy is more than mine!"
The annual event was held at the Rocketdyne Road Church of Christ, at 1111 Rocketdyne Road in Neosho. "I want to give a shout out to the Rocketdyne Road Church of Christ," Denefrio said. "Everyone is so welcoming, so hospitable. They are very generous hosts for our event. Whatever we need, they will get it for us."
The admission price allowed those in attendance to enjoy as many different soups or chili items as they chose from the main line along with samples from the chili cook off. Beverages and homemade desserts were also included.
An array of home baked dessert items were also auctioned to raise additional money for FFAA. Cakes, pies, brownies, cookies, and more were all available. Neosho auctioneer and real estate agent Becky Cobb did the honors during the auction but this year, she announced a new twist.
"This is something brand new this year," she told the crowd when she first took the microphone. "We're going to play Bingo."
Bingo cards were available for a $10 donation per card. Between the auction items, Cobb's husband, currently a science teacher at the Neosho Christian School, called out the bingo numbers.
The first auction item was a Kitty Cat Cake, half chocolate, half white, baked and decorated to resemble a cat. It was displayed by Chyna Rhodes before the bidding began and sold for $30.
In addition to the dessert auction, a silent auction for a variety of items and baskets was held. These items ranged from a basket of fine wines to handmade wooden furniture, tools, books, Super Bowl baskets, and much more.
Volunteers stayed busy in the kitchen, on the serving line, at the dessert tables and lending a hand wherever one might be needed. Some assisted with set-up prior to the event and clean-up duties afterward.
Neosho High School junior Gage Roberts, a first semester AFJROTC student and first time volunteer at the event, said, "I want to help out as much as I can."
He did his duty along the soup line, serving up more than one variety of soup including a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo that came from Major Langley's kitchen.
Many local and area residents attended the event, enjoying the soup, chili, desserts, and fellowship, all for a good cause.
Proceeds from the event will help fund the operation of the FFAA animal shelter located at 11281 East Highway 86 in Neosho. FFAA also operates a thrift store at 915 West Harmony Street.
Their main focus is rescuing homeless dogs and cats from Newton and McDonald Counties, then helping the animals to find forever homes.Volunteers are always welcome.
Email ffaaneosho@yahoo.com to find out how you can be a part of the organization or visit the website at www.ffaaneosho.org.