Soup Bowl draws record numbers on a rainy day

VERO BEACH — By all accounts, this was one of the biggest Samaritan Center Soup Bowl events to date.   Early bird fever appeared to have caught on, with people lining up at several of the county-wide locations at 11 a.m.  By 12:30 soup choices were dwindling and hand-crafted bowls were flying off the shelf.  

Volunteer potters had thrown 1,100 bowls at a Vero Beach Museum of Art workshop and people were eager to add to their collection of bowls from prior years. The weather, which some thought might keep people away, actually seemed to have the opposite effect.  Diners seemed happy enjoy the company of their friends and neighbors, while hunkered down over steaming bowls of soup.  At just a $5 requested contribution, it was the best lunch deal in town.

Parked cars stretched way past the Indian River Shores Firehouse, with folks looking forward to the various homemade soups being offered by Coldwell Banker Ed Schlitt at the Indian River Shores Community Center.   After 18 years hosting the Soup Bowl at their various office locations, this was their first time at the IRS Community Center.

“Richard [Jefferson], our new Town Manager is my neighbor and offered this venue,” said Sharon Wininger.  “He was very sweet to do it; they just revamped the whole building with new carpeting and everything.”

“I had to beg the Police Chief not to take my signs down” said Wininger of the large Samaritan Center Soup Bowl banner on A-1-A, explaining that Indian River Shores generally has strict limits on sign sizes.

“Everyone has been so great.  We started setting up at 6:30 this morning; picking up the soups and getting everything ready.  We’ve got 25 different soups, plus 30 desserts and drinks, which is a little unusual.”

Siblings Linda Schlitt Gonzalez, Barbara Schlitt Ford and Craig Schlitt were all on hand to help out.

“We’ve been doing it for I think 18 years; we did it the very first year, and have done it ever since,” said Schlitt Gonzalez, co-owner of Coldwell Banker Ed Schlitt, who had also contributed her famously popular grouper chowder to the mix. “We’ve always had a great attendance.”

Over at Christ by the Sea, Charlotte Terry was trying to decide which of the soup tureens she wanted to take a chance on.

Seven immensely talented clay artists, Nancy Blair, Sean Clinton, Rich Pierce, Sharon and Sean Sexton, Maria Sparsis and Glenda Taylor, created unique, one of a kind handmade soup tureens which are being raffled off to raise additional funds for the event.

Calling it, Chicken Soup for the Potters Soul, they are offering $1 raffle tickets, for the tureens, which will be on display at Tiger Lily Art Studios and Gallery until December 3, when the winners will be drawn.

Terry had also just purchased the last of the bowls available at Christ by the Sea.  “This is their last one out of 200 and it’s just 12:45,” said Terry.

A tableful of drivers from the Indian River County Volunteer Ambulance Squad came in out of the rain for a lunch break.

“Our office is just down the street; we come every year.  Three of our other drivers went to other locations around town,” said Squad Administrator April Hargett.

In search of the perfect bowl, Pat Anwyl and Carol Rose went first to Christ by the Sea and then to Holy Cross Catholic Church, lamenting that pickings were getting slim.

“It’s been very successful,” said volunteer Ann Schemel.  “We had people here at 11 this morning and it’s been constant ever since.  I’ve been doing this for many years, and this is absolutely the busiest yet.”

The Samaritan Center, a program of Catholic Charities and an agency of the United Way, provides transitional housing for homeless families with dependent children in Indian River County. The Soup Bowl raises awareness and money towards the daily operating budget for homeless families at the Samaritan Center. {igallery 293}

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