Soup’s on for a good cause in Los Banos

Members of the Zako family, from left, Joseph, Emi and Faith paint bowls at Los Banos Junior High School for the Empty Bowls event at the Ted Falasco Arts Center.
Members of the Zako family, from left, Joseph, Emi and Faith paint bowls at Los Banos Junior High School for the Empty Bowls event at the Ted Falasco Arts Center. glieb@losbanosenterprise.com

The spirit of gratitude will continue in Los Banos after Thanksgiving to Dec. 4, when the eighth annual Empty Bowls event returns to the Ted Falasco Art Center.

The Tuesday evening fundraiser – to help provide food for people in the community who often go to bed hungry – will again be at 5th and K streets from 4:30 to 7 p.m. All proceeds will be given to local charities that provide food for those who often don’t have enough.

For a $15 ticket ($10 for children) a person can select a colorful hand-made bowl, enjoy a serving of homemade soup (with refills) and some French bread and butter and help the community. Any member of the Los Banos Rotary Club has tickets, or you can call Roy Todd at 805 208-0942 or David Dees, 209 710-0764.

The Los Banos Rotary Club and Los Banos Interact Clubs partner with the Los Banos Arts Council and Los Banos Unified School District to host the event. And once again the Los Banos Arts Council has donated the art center. As in previous years, decorations will be minimal so as much of the money raised as possible can go directly to help feed the hungry.

The soups will be donated by local restaurants, which have been generous over the years in providing their specialties.

Here’s how it works. First, you select a bowl from among the hundreds that have been made for the event. Then you join a soup line so that you can choose your favorite.

Volunteers then fill a disposable insert within the selected ceramic bowl, provide a roll and butter and encourage diners to enjoy a tasty, simple meal.

As they have done in past years, art students have been creating bowls with direction from their teachers – Trinidad Gallegos of Los Banos High, Sharon Caredio and Melissa Mathis of Pacheco and this year, Chrise Busse from Los Banos Junior High.

Rotarians and other community volunteers have also been making bowls at local schools and at the new art studio opened by the Los Banos Arts Council on I Street, near the old Crest Theater. Making bowls continues a tradition started nine years ago by Los Banos Junior High art teacher Jim Clarke, who retired last year after 47 years of teaching.

Last spring’s scheduled Empty Bowls event had to be postponed because time ran out before there were enough bowls made and glazed. And it is the handcrafted bowls that are the heart of the fundraiser.

Volunteers are still working to make enough bowls to enable the hundreds of people who come to Empty Bowls to take home a colorful reminder of the volunteers’ artistic talent, as well as a reminder of the many people in our community who regularly don’t have enough to eat.

This year’s event, coordinated by the Rotarian Colleen Menefee with the assistance from Roy Todd, Marg Benton and Tony Whitehurst, is likely to be as another success.

Students from the local Interact clubs – under the watchful eyes of advisors Jennifer Chapman, Kimberly McCullough and Brian Rocha – have been helping out.

“It’s part of the spirit of Rotary and its motto, ‘Service above Self,’” said Rotary Club president Gene Lieb. “And it helps build goodwill and friendship, one of the elements of Rotary’s ‘Four-Way Test.’”

Empty Bowls fits into one of the emphases of the Los Banos Rotary Club, which was stressed by last year’s club president David Dees – to help feed the hungry, especially children. He has been working with Lori Lieb to coordinate efforts to reduce hunger locally, and the club has given money to the Merced County Food Bank.

I hope many people come to the Ted Falasco Arts Center on Dec. 4. Lively conversation and tasty soup served in colorful bowls all for a good cause.

John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email john.spevak@gmail.com.