Empty Bowls fundraiser

mgaytan@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 15, 2013 

— It’s the time of year to tackle hunger by filling empty bowls.

The annual fundraiser organized by the Los Banos Rotary Club plans a soup night to raise money for area organizations to feed people in need. It will take place from 4:30 to 7:30p.m. Dec.3 at the Ted Falasco Arts Center, 1105 Fifth St. Tickets are $10 and include soups from area eateries and a handmade ceramic bowl to take home.

The bowls are crafted by Jim Clarke, a ceramics teacher at Los Banos Junior High. Rotary club members and volunteers participate one night a week a month before the fundraiser to help make the bowls.

Clarke has been shaping the bowls for years. He is the originator of the fundraiser. More than 500 bowls were made last year, and Clarke made 400 of those by himself.

“It’s hard coming up with some of the forms,” he said. “My whole thing is, I know it’s for charity, but I want the people to have something that really stands out.”

This year’s fundraiser will get help from members of the Los Banos Junior High Interact Club, a branch of Rotary, who have also given Clarke support in making the bowls. Clarke said he created new shapes and sizes. Members of the Pacheco High Interact Club and the Los Banos Interact Club are also involved.

“I’ve had the comments that, over the years, the bowls seem to have gotten better and better all the time,” he said.

“I am pretty particular about making this thing work,” he said. “I want it to be very successful, and the more money we make, the neater I think it is.”

Marg Benton, president of Rotary, said the Interact clubs have been and will be a big help in bringing the night together.

“They’re very involved in it,” she said. “It kind of has lessened the work on us to make 500 bowls. They’ll be a part of the serving and setting up.”

Since Rotary’s motto is “service above self,” Benton said the fundraiser is perfect project for the students. “They love to do the service projects with us.”

The fundraiser is set up like a soup kitchen, Benton said. “So people can be mindful as to what homeless people go through,” she said. “What the hungry go through.”

The soups on the menu so far are chili from Wendy’s, tortilla soup from Chili’s Grill & Bar, split pea soup from Pea Soup Andersen’s, and clam chowder from a restaurant in Monterey, among others. “Most of the restaurants here in town donate soup to us,” she said.

The proceeds from the fundraiser help local organizations, churches and food pantries feed people. Last year’s fundraiser brought in $5,000.

“This touches the whole community,” Benton said. “This is a melding of everyone. It kind of kicks off Christmas.” She said that the community loves getting the bowls, but that is just a minor part of the real reason behind the fundraiser. “I really feel the community kind of come together and helps support feeding the hungry,” she said.

Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209)826-3831 ext. 6562 or mgaytan@ losbanosenterprise.com.

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