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‘Souper’ bowls fund Habitat for Humanity

Bob Henkle (left) hands Frank Belote a check for $1,000. The money was raised for Habitat for Humanity during the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center’s inaugural soup-a-thon held during the recent East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships. (WDN Photo/Edwin Modlin II)

The Inner Banks Artisans’ Center raised money for Habitat for Humanity by selling soup served in handcrafted bowls.
Bob Henkle, owner and operator of the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, said he contacted Frank Belote, who’s associated with Habitat for Humanity, about the idea.
Belote, a representative of Habitat for Humanity, said customers got a good handcrafted bowl filled with good soup.
Belote said the fundraising project began when Henkle called him to discuss a fundraiser to do something for the community.
“He asked me if Habitat would be willing to take up some funds if we had a fundraiser,” Belote said. “I said, ‘Absolutely,’ because that’s obviously a win-win situation for us.”
“We tried to determine which group we wanted to go with,” Henkle said. “As a group in New Bern was having a great deal of success. And we have artists in here that are involved in all kinds of soup-a-thons.”
Belote and Henkle wanted to have the soup-a-thon fundraiser last fall, but could not fit it in. However, when they finally did begin, they had contributions of nearly 80 bowls and mugs for the soup-a-thon.
“It went off really well,” Henkle said. “And Pia’s restaurant next door contributed the soup, as well as myself and a fellow artist here. So, we had three different types of soup, and it went off beautifully.”
Brandon Qualls, part-owner of Pia’s, said he was on board from the beginning when Henkle mentioned the idea to him.
Henkle said the event raised a little more than $1,000 for Habitat for Humanity in three hours.
“New Bern just had theirs, and they raised $17,000 in just one day,” Henkle said. “So, it’s a great future, and we’ll have it again.”
Henkle said he’s contacted the Washington Harbor District Alliance about having a soup-a-thon during next year’s wildlife festival.
“It’s a phenomenal way of raising money,” Henkle said. “We have $10 and $20 bowls, and when you add the soup to that, they’re getting their money’s worth. And at the same time, we’re raising money for a good cause.”
Henkle has been organizing even more for next year, including churches and other businesses.
“With harbor alliance involved, we’ll hopefully get to the $6,000 or $7,000 range,” Henkle said. “We’ll be part of the wildlife festival next year and find out how we’ll fit into their program. We’re not going to just launch it without their approval.”
Next year, Henkle wants to donate the funds raised to the Turnage Theater.
“The Turnage really needs help,” he said. “It’s really the anchor downtown, and if anything happens to the Turnage, then it just won’t be the same as it brings so many people from out of town to Washington.”