Tonight was the Souper Bowl, a local (Reading, PA) charity event meant to mimic a soup kitchen (sort of) that also gives out pottery bowls; hence the name. This year we were in a hockey rink, sans ice, at a local fitness center. The rink was outlined in tables carrying soup, bread, drinks and desserts. Each table or half table represented an area restaurant or vendor and was manned by its own staff.
Before you got to the food room, however, you passed through an antechamber filled with shelves displaying pottery bowls for you to choose from. The bowls came from local pottery students and professionals and you picked one to keep in a glorious free for all. You didn’t actually eat the soup in the pottery bowl though, which seems confusing unless you consider the logistics. The bowls serve both as functional symbolism and an attractive lure. Once I made my choice, a volunteer wrapped my bowl and gave it to me in a bag decorated by one of the children served by the charity.
The charity itself, Opportunity House, supports homeless and underprivileged families. So the soup kitchen thing is pertinent, although it is more alluded to than actualized. The part that most makes it feel like a soup kitchen is getting there early and standing in line. You don’t do this because they run out of soup, however, but because you want first dibs on the best handmade bowls. When you are drinking Starbucks coffee and eating a gourmet cookie on top of a belly full of restaurant quality soup and bread, the hardships of poverty are hardly on the forefront of your mind. But I guess that kind of ironic dichotomy is typical of fund raising events.
The good food and handmade bowl aren’t why I love it so much, though. For me the event is so thrilling because I get to see my name all over the place. It was on the table with my donated bowls, it was on the silent auction table with my big bowl and it was in the program. I admit it, I am a ridiculous sucker for my name in print. My 6 year old daughter understands completely.
On top of the name thing, I also used to get all excited to linger around the bowls to see who chose mine, but I’ve gotten past that. (Ok, so this is the first year I didn’t do it.) I still kept an eye on the silent auction bowl to see how much it went for and who ended up with it. There is just something warm and fuzzy about seeing the people who like my stuff… and how much they are willing to pay for it.
As far as the food, my favorite soup was a roasted red pepper crab soup from Go Fish! in West Reading. For the record, the owner of that establishment has no idea who I am and I am in no way being compensated for endorsing her store. That said, she sells some good seafood and my husband and I really like shopping there, so I felt a completely unfounded personal pride that her soup was the best.
While I’m on an endorsing without compensation roll, another bonus this year was finding my favorite cookie vendor, Maggie’s Cookies, handing out her signature chocolate chip cookies. She sort of knows who I am, but only because I went gaga over her cookies when I started buying them from her at our local farmers’ market last year. I am not prepared to admit to how many cookies I took this evening, but suffice is to say I was a glutton and surely broke both dessert availability and charity event etiquette. I couldn’t help it. They’re that good.
Even though I've been going for years, I still can't get over the fact that there is a pottery focused charity event in such close proximity to me. How serendipitous.
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I like to throw things.