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Soup Kitchen Facing Donor Backlash After Paul Ryan Photo-Op Gets Help From Fark Fundraising Campaign

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PAUL RYAN SOUP KITCHEN
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his wife Janna wash pots at St. Vincent DePaul dining hall, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 in Youngstown, Ohio. | AP

A group of strangers have banded together to help out the Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen that has been threatened with a donor backlash after Rep. Paul Ryan's photo-op last week.

After news that donors were pulling their support for the Society of Saint Vincent DePaul to protest Ryan's use of its Youngstown soup kitchen, users of Fark, an online news aggregator, started a fundraising campaign for the embattled charity on Indiegogo. So far, Fark.com's efforts have raised over $11,000 for the branch of the Saint Vincent DePaul affected by the boycott.

Fark was hoping to raise $10,000 in total, and with 44 days left, it seems the campaign may double that amount, with all proceeds going directly to the Ohio non-profit.

According to the site's homepage, Fark decided to start the campaign in order to "thumb our noses at the people who would take away money from the needy in the name of punishing someone politically."

The Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society found itself at the center of media firestorm last week after Republican vice presidential candidate and his wife Janna washed pots at the dining hall on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Ryan used the soup kitchen for a 15-minute photo opportunity on his way to the airport following a campaign stop on the area, CBS reports.

Neither the campaign nor the soup kitchen had obtained permission from the charity president for the photo-op. The Society's bylaws stipulate that such appearances are prohibited.

“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donation," said Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, according to Forbes. "It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”

Antal confirmed that donors have begun an exodus, and that the losses have been significant, putting in jeopardy a mission that serves over 100,000 people annually.

Indiegogo notes that the campaign is not affiliated with the Society of Saint Vincent DePaul. "We're just a group of folks who think it's unfair for a charity that feeds homeless people to be caught in the crossfire of the Presidential campaigns."

The site also provides a direct link to the St. Vincent's website, for anyone who would rather give directly to the charity.

To make a donation to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, money can be sent to P.O. Box 224, Youngstown, Ohio 44501. Online donors should specify that their donations are for the Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen.