By JP Graham | Reporter
Caritas Waco, a nonprofit organization that provides food, clothing and miscellaneous goods to the Waco community, is celebrating 51 years of service with their annual “Feast of Caring” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Waco Convention Center. The event will feature local restaurants in a soup cook-off and a dessert cook-off, in addition to silent and audible auctions for various prizes.
The Feast of Caring is Caritas’ major fundraising event of the year. The “Soup Cook-Off,” the main event of the night, will feature local restaurants and caterers who have prepared choice soups for those in attendance. Guests can make a $1 donation to vote for their favorite soup, and the highest number of donations will determine the restaurant winner. The donations will support Caritas’ work in the Waco community.
The Dessert Cook-Off follows the same format as the Soup Cook-Off, for which guests will vote for their favorite dessert, and all donations will benefit Caritas and their services.
Development director for Caritas and Feast of Caring coordinator Ann Owen said the event is sure to be worth attending, where guests will leave full, and some will leave with more than they came with.
“Bring your family and friends. I promise you will have a fun evening and eat some incredible soups and desserts, plus hopefully leave with some great auction items,” Owen said.
The Souper Spoons game is another featured activity at the event, where participants pay $10 to enter for the chance to win gift cards ranging from $10 to $180. Everyone who enters is guaranteed to win at least a $10 gift card.
Caritas was founded in 1967 by the Austin Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church but has functioned as an independent organization since 1979. In 2014, Caritas implemented their “Case Management Program,” which helped shift the nature of their work from being described as “relief” to “development.” This means Caritas shifted their focus from direct giving to the community, which sometimes created a reliance on assistance, to promoting independence and self-reliance in the lives of qualified recipients.
Caritas additionally operates two self-sustaining thrift stores called “Hidden Treasures,” located at 3016 Bellmead Drive and 3912 Bosque Blvd. Hidden Treasures sells various donated appliances, furniture, clothing and other household items. The revenue created by each of the stores funds the Caritas Emergency Assistance programs.
Owen said the Feast of Caring event helps support Caritas throughout the year, as they are an organization that relies on the support of the Waco community.
“Funds raised at the event are used to provide services to our clients,” Owen said. “We serve an average of 2,500 families per month, so we rely heavily on our community to support our work.”
Tickets for the Feast of Caring Event are $35 and grant attendees access to the premier soups and desserts. Tickets can be purchased on Caritas’ website, or by visiting their location at 300 South 15th St.
Caritas has listed volunteer opportunities on their website, along with a “Current Needs,” list if one prefers to get involved immediately.