updated 9:52 PM EDT, Mar 26, 2015
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EMPTY-bowl-casie-wadfordEmpty Bowl kicks off holiday drive for Salado Family Relief

Salado area potters and restaurants are teaming up for the Empty Bowl Project to benefit the Salado Family Relief Fund 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Salado Civic Center on Main Street.

For just $15, you can purchase a handmade bowl by area potters, fill it with soup provided by area restaurants and help support the Salado Family Relief Fund. You can have all-you-can-eat soup for just $10 per person.

Local potter Titia Arledge, of Mud Pies Pottery, is working with potters from around the state to provide the handmade pottery bowls for the event. Some groups have made their own bowls during class sessions at Mud Pies in October.

One of those groups is a collection of friends that gathered Oct. 2 to celebrate editor Tim Fleischer’s 46th birthday by making bowls and enjoying each other’s company.

“The Salado Family Relief Fund and the Empty Bowl are very dear to us,” Fleischer said. “I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than making bowls for this event. I plan on getting there early to buy my bowl and add it to our growing collection.”

Attendees get to select handmade bowls as keepsakes and fill up on soup provided by local restaurants and B & B’s. Participating restaurants are these: Roy T’s, Cathy’s Boardwalk Café, Adelea’s on Main, Johnny’s, Stagecoach Inn, Inn at Salado, Brownings Café, McCain’s Bakery and Café, Stone Creek Settlement, Inn on the Creek, Baines House, Salado Pizza Place and The Salado Patio.

The Empty Bowl Project comes at a great time for the Salado Family Relief Fund, according to President Mary Catherine Ervin.

The SFRF is working to supply Christmas presents to more than 50 families in the Salado area, comprised of more than 150 children.

Salado Family Relief will again be managing the Christmas Project,  whereby qualified families will be presented with with toys and gifts for Christmas.  

“We cannot do this without the generosity of our community,” said Renee Oas, a board member of the Salado Family Relief Fund and director of the Christmas project.

If you would like to “adopt” a child or family for Christmas, email Oas at cashmagnet@vvm.com or call her  at 947-9471 for details.

All the gifts will be distributed in early December at the Presbyterian Church of Salado.  

“Thank you for making Christmas possible for those less fortunate,” Oas said.

  The annual Christmas drive began in the mid 90s. “I heard of a couple of school teachers and volunteers who were gathering things for kids in the schools. Dana Britt and the late Mary Ribeiro were doing this on their own for a long time without much help,” founding president Marilyn Fleischer said of the beginnings of the Family Relief Fund. 

The first year that the Fund began to take shape, collections of used toys and clothes were gathered at the fire station. “It was discouraging sifting for hours through used toys that were broken or should have been thrown away,” she said. 

The Fund continued its work at Christmas, but changed gears when the tornado ripped through Jarrell, causing such devastation to that small community. “We solicited and took donations for relief efforts in Jarrell, which was when we changed the name of the group to Salado Family Relief Fund,” Fleischer said. “We collected several thousand dollars for those victims.”

At that point, Fleischer said she realized it was time to organize the group formally. “We invited all of the churches and civic groups in Salado to join us in forming this organization,” she said. 

Since forming more than almost two decades  ago, the Fund has helped families in the area in a variety of ways, including temporary assistance for medicines, rent, clothing, food and other necessities. “We never give out cash,” saiad Mary Catherine Ervin, longtime board member and President of the SFRF, “but we will always try to work to find a solution or a way we can help.”

The Fund has established a school supply bank at the school, administered by the Communities in Schools. The Fund also ensures that children get a hot meal at school by working with cafeteria staff. 

In addition to the annual Christmas drive, the SFRF also sponsors an annual Back-to-School drive in which families are given vouchers for clothing and school supplies only that are valid at a local Wal-Mart. The SFRF works with the Wal-Mart to ensure that only back-to-school clothing and supplies are purchased.

None of these projects would be possible without the support of local churches, civic groups, school groups and individuals who give of their time and money each year.

 Civic groups, church groups and school groups are encouraged to do adopt a family or a child during the Christmas drive.

The SFRF protects the identity of the children receiving the gifts. No groups or individuals will know the names of the children they have agreed to adopt.

If you would like to adopt a family, or a single child, or make a monetary donation, contact Ervin at 947-8230 or via email at scervin345@aol.com.