Feast of Caring to serve smiles

The Caritas Feast of Caring will be at 6 p.m. today at the Waco Convention Center. This event features soups from a variety of local restaurants, and participants vote on their favorite soups by putting dollars in cups. Proceeds will go to the general operations of Caritas. Tickets are $35 and can be bought at the door. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

The annual Caritas Feast of Caring will take place at 6 p.m. today at the Waco Convention Center to benefit the daily operations of Caritas.

“It’s going to be a time of celebration, and we enjoy having a large number of folks in the community be with us here for that,” Buddy Edwards, executive director of Caritas, said.

Caritas is celebrating its 50th anniversary of operation. The annual fundraising event began 49 years ago, originally called the Poor Man’s Supper, which just consisted of a dinner and a speaker. In the 1980s, the name changed to Feast of Caring because more than half of the people served by Caritas were female, so the title was changed to be more inclusive and descriptive, Edwards said. Since then, it has been established as the main fundraising tradition of the organization. Major sponsors of this year’s event include H-E-B, DuPuy Oxygen, KWTX Channel 10, TXU Energy, Central National Bank, Providence Ascension, Richard Karr Motors and the Wacoan.

A few years ago, the event called Soup Cook-Off started. This is where local restaurants come to the event and set up food tables to serve specialized samples of soup. Participants in the Feast of Caring will be able to taste the soups and then will be asked to vote on their favorites soups by putting dollars in cups. The restaurant that receives the most dollars will be voted the best soup. There will also be a panel of judges that sample and vote on the various soups, Edwards said.

“In addition to the soups, we will have several desserts from local restaurants and caterers,” Edwards said. “There will be 22 serving areas altogether. We’re excited about having the community come in, go around the room, sample different soups and desserts and vote on their favorites.”

Along with the food sampling, there will be both silent and live auctions. For the live auction there will be an actual auctioneer coordinating the event. Edwards said six items will be auctioned off, all to raise funds for Caritas. Throughout the evening, PowerPoint presentations will give information about Caritas and the services it provides.

“This will all go into the general support of the organization, not just a specific facet,” Edwards said. “Caritas basically is an emergency assistance program. We provide help to low-income individuals that are facing very difficult circumstances in their lives.”

Edwards encourages the whole Waco and Baylor community to join the event. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased at the door. Edwards said more than 500 tickets have been bought already. Edwards said there is a large number of supporters within the Baylor community, and that he would love to see those individuals come out and support the event. Individuals that are interested in volunteering can sign up online, because, as the website states, volunteers are the backbone of the Caritas work.

“What I really like about Caritas is that their mission is to provide emergency assistance and help people find their potential,” Colleyville senior Jennifer Janicki, public relations intern for Caritas, said. “We help people find jobs, get involved in the community and just grow.”

Janicki has been involved with the promotional side of the Feast of Caring event by making Facebook posts, magazine advertisements and press releases. Both Janicki and Edwards emphasized that Caritas is about helping people make strong strides and be more self-sufficient in getting out of poverty, such as getting jobs and being involved in more educational programs. Edwards said this year’s event will be attended by some individuals from the case management program, where Caritas works to get at the root of causes of poverty and help individuals seeking help get involved with the community.

“I think what’s really cool about the Feast of Caring this year is that it’s the 50th anniversary, so it’s a special year for the Feast of Caring and a great way to fundraise for all they do in the community,” Janicki said. “I’m excited to see everyone work together and help improve Waco.”