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Fund-raiser is souper

February 14, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

HAGERSTOWN - Many groups trying to raise money for charities and nonprofit organizations attempt to stir up events that consistently will deliver for their causes.

Those supporting the Community Free Clinic have found that several varieties of soups, handmade bowls and a lot of good company have been the perfect ingredients for raising funds for more than a decade.

The annual Potter's Bowl again proved its drawing power Sunday as more than 240 people squeezed into the Trinity Lutheran Church social hall to get a taste of nine soups. For the price of admission - raised to $40 this year - diners had a chance to try the usual soup staples, more exotic blends, desserts and breads, collect a handmade bowl and bid on auction items.


All money raised by the event, the 10th in 11 years, is turned over to the free clinic, said co-chairwomen and cooks Carol Mendelsohn and Janet Emral Shaool.

As has been the case for several years, space was at a premium.

"It's all we can fit in here," said Emral Shaool, who made cream of artichoke soup for the event. "The line was like a block long. We were excited."

"If you don't know the person next to you when you sit down, you'll know them well when you get up," said Mendelsohn, who contributed a large batch of turkey sausage soup.

Mendelsohn said she never thought the event would be such an annual hit when it began more than a decade ago.

The Potter's Bowl was launched after Ben Culbertson, who teaches pottery at Hagerstown Community College, pitched the idea after attending a similar event in Maine. The event, which was originally held at Congregation B'nai Abraham, is dependent on volunteer efforts from professional and amateur artists, who make the bowls; members of B'nai Abraham and Trinity Lutheran, who respectively make the bread and desserts; and other donors, who bring items including paintings and quilts for a post-meal auction.

One key to the event's success is those spending hours over oven burners making the soups.

Leah Neveil, who brought mulligatawny soup, said she was in her fourth year cooking at the event. She said many of the cooks are friends from B'nai Abraham.

"I just like to contribute to the community and being with my friends," Neveil said. "Even though we work hard, it's a lot of fun."

Neveil said the group even seems to enjoy the arduous task of cleaning up after the event.

While Neveil prepared to clean up, Mansoor "Manny" Shaool was busy trying to sell to-go containers of soup for $5 each to raise additional profits for the clinic.

"Believe me, my soup goes faster than any of them," said Shaool, who whipped up close to 10 gallons of Aushe Reshte, a vegetarian soup. Shaool said he started cooking the soup Friday night and finished Saturday.

Bunky Kurtz said she also spent a lot of time in the kitchen to get her traditional offering, Italian beef vegetable soup, ready in time for Sunday evening. Kurtz said the cause makes it all worthwhile.

"We have so many people that slip through the cracks that don't have insurance. Somebody's gotta help," Kurtz said of the free clinic's importance. "It's the least we can do (to help)."

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