That's why the La Jolla resident has bestowed such lessons on her 13- and 15-year-old sons, who volunteer their time at Third Avenue Charitable Organization (TACO), a nonprofit San Diego agency that provides food, as well as medical, dental and legal services for the homeless, elderly and working poor.
So it seemed only natural to Calabrese that her sons' Boy Scout Troop No. 506 of La Jolla, which is headed up by she and her husband, would hold a fund-raiser to help end world hunger. When she discovered the proceeds would be donated to TACO, she was ecstatic.
"Learning about the community and service work is very essential to what we teach the boys," Calabrese said. "When we heard about this opportunity we thought it would be a good one."
The Scouts' endeavor "” an internationally recognized fund-raiser called Empty Bowls "” will gather community members Saturday, May 12, for a lunch of soup and bread donated by San Diego restaurants and bakeries such as Bully's La Jolla and Bernini's Bistro. People buy their own bowls "” handmade by local clay potters "” and take them home as a reminder that some people's plates are constantly empty.
That concept goes hand-in-hand with what TACO has been promoting since its inception 32 years ago. Started as part of the First Lutheran Church, the charity has since broken off to provide equal services and opportunities to all community members, regardless of their religious affiliation.
The organization hopes Empty Bowls will give San Diegans a deeper awareness of the social and economic problems faced by the county's 10,000-plus homeless population, according to Jim Lovell, TACO's program coordinator.
"We think the Empty Bowls project is a tremendous gift to people who are in need and people who are hungry," Lovell said. "It's a wonderful reminder to the community that people's food needs are essential to their survival and all of us have those same needs."
Lovell also pointed to the local artists who volunteered their time and crafts and commended them for playing a key role in the process.
"These handmade bowls are created with a real artisan touch, and that kind of passion and creativity being used to support people who are hungry or have other social issues is a way of thinking very close to my heart," he said.
Lynn Render, a member of Clay Artists of San Diego who helped organize the event, feels the same way.
Working in conjunction with La Jolla High School's ceramics classes, UCSD's Craft Center and other independent potters, Render has generated more than 500 bowls to donate for the event. Her main goal is to give everyone in the community a chance to get involved, she said.
While flipping through a recipe book several years ago, the artist discovered the Empty Bowls fund-raiser, which was founded in 1990 by an art teacher at a Michigan high school who was looking for ways to raise money for a local food drive.
She instantly knew she wanted to bring the event to her neighborhood.
"I was thinking there are so many potters in San Diego and they are all so generous, and if we could just take the time to organize, we could really raise some money to help," she said. "Part of the thinking behind this kind of event is that a lot of people really want to get involved in charity, but sometimes admission for events are very steep and as a result they become exclusive affairs. This way it is accessible for everybody."
The suggested donation of $15, which includes the bowl and lunch, is a reasonable amount that everyone can afford, she pointed out.
Render and Calabrese, who have been collaborating over the past few months to coordinate responsibilities, hope the luncheon will draw at least 500 people.
The Boy Scouts will be in charge of serving soup, washing bowls and cleaning up after each patron, Calabrese said, adding that she felt the day would help the youths understand their role in the community and the magnitude of helping those less fortunate.
She thinks such events are also a good indication of how many adult community members place emphasis on giving back, and said she hopes Empty Bowls will spur more people to consider donating to charities.
"This is nice because people are giving and they are getting something back," Calabrese said. "It's going to benefit the homeless, but it's going to benefit the homeless here in San Diego. This issue is probably not going to personally affect most of the people who attend this event, so it says something about their generosity."
The Empty Bowls event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at La Jolla United Methodist Church, 6063 La Jolla Blvd.
For more information contact Render, (619) 223-4351, or visit www.emptybowls.com.