Acts of kindness every day

Santa Barbara County is blessed with an abundance of truly generous people. You can see that when attending any one or all of the dozens of charity events each year.

One of those special occasions occurred last week in Lompoc, with that valley’s rendition of the annual Empty Bowls fund-raiser. It took place at the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center, and by the time the soup was ready for those empty bowls, the crowd had swelled beyond the main hall’s capacity, and folks were lined up on the patio.

That’s what is supposed to happen when really worthy causes are celebrated. In this case, the recipient of the huge crowd’s generosity was the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. Patrons paid $25 to eat their choice of soups from hand-crafted bowls, the rainbow effect of which was to fill the center with color.

But most importantly, the charitable giving supports one of this county’s most active community organizations. In a typical 12-month period, the Foodbank will collect, buy and distribute more than a million pounds of food to nearly 20,000 county residents, many of whom are children in families that face hunger and/or food insecurity on a daily basis.

It’s hard to envision that need in our communities of such beauty, opulence and plenty, but that is the truth. Hunger hurts, and too many of our neighbors experience that pain.

The Foodbank accomplishes its daily miracle by distributing food through more than 300 community organizations and agencies. It is a network of giving whose value has been recognized by those of us who can afford to give.

The Foodbank thrives on donations of food, but it can do even more with a cash donation. It’s expert buyers can turn a donated dollar into about $7 worth of food purchases. Think about that, and believe in the power of helping others.

That was a common sentiment last week at the Lompoc Empty Bowls event, feelings that were summed up by a patron who admitted to paying to fill a bowl with soup because “I’m lucky to have food on the table every day …”

The Lompoc event was one of three annual Empty Bowl gatherings throughout the county. Santa Maria’s Empty Bowls celebration takes place in October, while the Santa Barbara celebration takes place about a month later.

As we said earlier, this region is blessed with an abundance of giving citizens, which is a very good thing — but something that does not have to be limited to a few times a year.