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Thursday will be the second annual Souper Bowl, where the feature attraction is soup, not football, and the cheering will be for the lucky winners of pottery donated by outstanding craftspeople.

Those who will benefit from the fund-raiser are the poor and working-poor families who depend on the Loaves and Fishes Dining Room for a hot meal and a way to stretch a limited income.

For a donation of $50 to the soup kitchen, at 286 Lafayette Ave. in the basement of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, there will be a supper of soup and bread served from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

In addition, there will be the bonus of taking home the soup bowls that have been made by potters at Buffalo Clayart, who donated their labor and several larger serving bowls.

There is also a chance to win one of the special sets of bowls thrown by former Buffalo potter Edward Poe, who now has a studio in the Southwest and wanted to be part of the fund-raiser.

Or maybe a football autographed by Bruce Smith of the Buffalo Bills or former Bills player James Lofton.

"We had 120 people come to dinner last year," recalled Anne Harrington, director of the soup kitchen, "and it was a lifesaver for us, because we were in desperate need of new ovens and a stove to keep the dining room open.

"We earned enough money to buy those items, but every day there is something else that breaks down," Harrington said. "Just this past week, the hot water tank broke down, one of the elements in the steam table went, and our big coffeepot gave up.

"But we are optimistic that enough caring people will walk through our door Thursday to help us replace those items so we can be here five days a week for those who need us."

Loaves and Fishes serves more than 32,000 meals a year and also connects families with other charitable and government agencies that can help pave the way to training and a job.

"But we have to remember," Harrington said, "there will always be people who will need a helping hand."

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