Nine Quad-City area mayors served soup Wednesday to raise money for the homeless and hungry.

The Mayor’s Hunger Lunch, held at the Golden Leaf Banquet Center in Davenport, benefits In from the Cold, a local nonprofit that awards financial grants to area organizations.

“It’s just a nice thing to do,” Milan Mayor Duane Dawson said about why he has participated in almost every annual luncheon since the first event 20 years ago.

Dawson said he appreciates hearing the personal stories from those who have received assistance.

Nancy West of Rock Island shared the story of how she once took refuge at Winnie’s Place, a Quad-City shelter for women who are homeless or victims of domestic violence.

“It’s not just a shelter, it was my home,” West said.

She added the staff at Winnie’s Place offered “loving support” and never judged her.

Barry Gallagher, president of the In from the Cold board of directors, said his organization has given out more than $300,000 to area groups since 1993, adding all the money raised stays in the community.

Gallagher said the need has grown over the years.

“I work at Vera French in homeless outreach, and our numbers have grown,” he said.

He has seeing younger people in need, especially those in their teens and 20s who can’t find work in a bad economy.

Wednesday’s luncheon raised $12,600 that is being awarded to seven local organizations, including Humility of Mary Shelter Inc., Churches United of the Quad-Cities Area and Community Health Care.

“It’s a great organization,” Silvis Mayor Bill Fox, one of Wednesday’s servers, said of In from the Cold.

“This spotlights the needs in our community, and the need has grown,” East Moline Mayor John Thodos said.

Thodos has participated as a soup server the past seven years.

“Being Greek, I know how to serve soup,” he said.

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