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Spoonfuls of generosity at first event

ROCK FALLS – Outside, it was rainy, foggy and gray, but inside, in the cafeteria at Rock Falls High School, it was sunny, warm and bubbling over with generosity.

More than 50 people gathered for the first local soup group Sunday evening.

The local event is part of a national movement based on a simple recipe: People come together to eat soup. They listen to a few proposals about how local groups might use a portion of the proceeds from the event for a worthwhile project, then vote on the project most deserving of the funds. The top vote-getting group leaves with a little cash, and the people leave full and fulfilled.

One by one, people filled disposable bowls with a few ladles of soup – cream of potato from Arthur’s Garden Deli, “starter” soup from La Familia and vegetable tortellini from the cafeteria. They piled small disposable plates with homemade brownies and cookies, too.

Then, as they slurped the last spoonfuls of soup, seven groups – four from within the high school and three from the community – made pitches for donations.

Giving Power to Adolescents sought funding for its second annual Youth Day this June. The Bridge of Art sought money to decorate windows from Franklin Grove to Fulton, a public art project on display from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Happy Tails Humane Society sought funding to support its animal rescue efforts.

Slowly, people got up from their seats. Some made a beeline for the voting table, plunking their four tokens into the bags of the projects they felt deserved donations. Others waited, asking questions of the groups before carefully placing their tokens into the appropriate bags.

“I think it’s an interesting idea,” said Shannon Flynn of Rock Falls. “You get to learn about groups you’ve heard of but don’t know much about.”

The event was a fundraiser not only for school and community groups, but also for the high school yearbook.

The yearbook group got $3 from every ticket sold, although its share will cover the cost of the soup.

The local groups got the remaining $4 from every ticket. They split more than $500 based on the votes; every project walked away with some cash.

“This isn’t about the yearbook, though,” said Heather Shore, an art teacher and the yearbook adviser, who organized the event. “This is about raising funds for the community.”

In the end, most people lingered. They helped themselves to second helpings of soup. They caught up with friends.

“It’s a nice, relaxed environment,” said Gayle Wright, whose daughter is on the high school yearbook staff. “I hope they can do this again.”

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