A belly full of warm soup will help build homes for families in need next week.
Delaware County Habitat for Humanity will host the 11th annual Soups for Shelter from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 20 at St. Mary School, 66 E. William St. in Delaware.
The event will feature homemade soups prepared by local chefs, plus a raffle and a silent auction.
Proceeds will help Habitat for Humanity build houses for low-income families in Delaware County.
"It goes to cover all the costs of our construction projects," said Volunteer Coordinator Carol Rencheck.
"We dedicated our 45th house last November, and we'll be dedicating our 46th house this spring in April," she said.
Last year, the fundraiser drew an estimated 400 dinner guests and raised more than $10,000. Organizers hope to bring in more this year.
Event Chairwoman Eileen Watts said the event will feature a large selection of locally prepared soups, including cheeseburger soup, tomato bisque, chicken noodle, butternut squash and vegan vegetable soup.
More than 80 gallons of specialty soup will be prepared by chefs from area businesses, including Local Roots in Powell and Willow Brook Christian Communities in Delaware.
Even Delaware firefighters will get in on the action, delivering a batch of their trademark chili for the event, Watts said.
"They make a really good, hearty chili. People always ask for that," she said.
The meal also includes bread, a dessert and a drink.
With each meal, guests can purchase a ceramic bowl made by area art students for $5. This year, the decorative bowls will be donated by artists from Delaware Hayes, Buckeye Valley, Big Walnut and all three Olentangy high schools, as well as the Delaware Arts Castle, Columbus College of Art and Design and Heritage Middle School in Westerville.
Watts said guests can choose from hundreds of colorful bowls when they get their meal.
"The artistic talent really shows in these bowls," she said. "The things the students create are really varied and creative."
Organizers also will pick their top seven donated bowls to raffle off to lucky guests.
Additionally, the event will feature a 50/50 raffle -- last year's winner walked away with $350 -- and a silent auction until 7 p.m. Guests can bid on donated items from more than 50 local businesses, ranging from sporting equipment and theater tickets to gift cards for a local salon or a massage therapist.
Residents in a hurry can stop by the "soup to go" window inside St. Mary School and pick up a quart of soup or even a single bowl to take with them.
Watts said the event is a fun way to spend an evening with family or friends.
"Come in for an hour, enjoy some good company and have a nice warm dinner -- especially if it's chilly outside," she said.
Dinner is $15 with a handcrafted ceramic bowl, $10 without. Children 12 and under eat free.
Habitat for Humanity works to build houses for low-income families, to be paid off by the family at zero interest. Candidates are identified through an application process and must show need and the ability to pay the mortgage.
Candidates also must put in 200 "sweat equity hours," during which they work on-site helping to construct their home or assisting with other Habitat projects.