Soup was on at CBC Hamilton on Tuesday as the Living Rock kicked off its 11th annual Soupfest campaign.

Living Rock, an organization in downtown Hamilton that helps at-risk youth, and its volunteers served up three soups to give people a taste of what they can expect at the actual Soupfest event, which takes place Feb. 6 at the Hamilton Convention Centre.

Food bank users

  • 44 per cent are children (under 18)
  • 32 per cent are single
  • 10 per cent are couples with no children
  • 42 per cent are single parent families
  • 16 per cent are dual parent families

Source: Hamilton Food Share

Last year the event raised more than $72,000 for the Living Rock, selling more than 5,000 people 110 litres of soup.

"This year we’re hoping to raise $100,000," said Soupfest event coordinator Kevin Charles.

All of the proceeds from the event, which sees more than 25 local restaurants and 100 volunteers make and offer up their liquid confections, go toward the Living Rock.

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Mayor Bob Bratina socializes over a cup of soup at the launch of the Living Rock's 11th annual Soupfest campaign. (Cory Ruf/CBC)

In addition to the food, the new Soupfest Collection Recipe Book will be available for purchase at the Feb. 6 event. The $35 volume includes dishes from 19 of the participating restaurants and coupons for local businesses.

Ward 3 Councillor Bernie Morelli was on hand at the kickoff to announce the inaugural Spirit Award, which will be given out at the Feb. 6 event. The honour commemorates Gary Kristiansen — a downtown community member who came up with the idea for Soupfest — who died in May.

"Gary, to me, represented everything that we're all about in this community — his desire to do something for community, his desire to do something with himself, his desire to cope with some of the challenges he bumped into along the way," Morelli said.

The Living Rock serves more than 900 meals a week to teens and young adults struggling with mental health issues, poverty and addictions.

This is Terrance Lacroix’s first taste of Soupfest, but the 23-year-old is no stranger to the Living Rock. He told CBC Hamilton that he stops by nearly every day, eating breakfast and using the onsite food bank.

 

How much do Hamiltonians give to charity?

CanadaHelps.org, a website that collects online donations for charities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton Burlington, tallied how much Hamiltonians donated through their site in 2012:

  •     The total number of donations was 2,503
  •     The total amount of donations was $192,467.29
  •     The average amount donated was $76.89

"Without it I’d probably peddle drugs on the street, to be honest," he said.

"If I need to eat, I’d do what I can to eat."

Lawyer Robert Hooper, one of the Soupfest sponsors, said he's involved with the Living Rock because of the positive impact its work has on the community. "There are lots of youth that need that hand to help push them up a bit, and that extra word of encouragement.

"Let's not forget that anyone who walks into that [Living Rock] building is going to be the future of this city."

Soupfest takes place February 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Hamilton Convention Centre. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Call 905-528-7625 or visit www.livingrock.ca for more details.