Each year, the Channel Islands YMCA kicks off its Campaign for Youth to achieve the goal of $150,000 for one of its most important pursuits — enriching the lives of children in the community.

The volunteer campaigners reach out to the community by sharing a personal Y-story and soliciting donations. This year, one particular campaign team has opted to think out-of-the-box, or the “soup pot,” to reach its goal.

When team leader David Damiano, a YMCA board member since 2008, needed to fill his team roster, he knew he wanted people as passionate as he is about helping the youths of Santa Barbara. He also knew he needed some creative thinkers.

“I wanted a team that I could depend on, and with this team, I knew I’d also be getting new ideas, to reach our goal,” Damiano said.

When he met with his team over lunch, the fundraising ideas flew around the table like herbs in a crock-pot.

Kate Schwab of MTD Santa Barbara, Georgette Friedman of the Downtown Organization and Kacy Lynd of State & A Bar & Grill were willing to go above and beyond making phone calls. So during one lunch hour, they conceived a “Soup de l’YMCA” soup-making contest.

Why soup? “Soup is a nutritious, comforting meal to share with your family or friends and is part of a healthy lifestyle,” Damiano said, “and that’s what the YMCA is all about.”

The contest, kicking off Thursday at the 1st Thursday fundraising YMCA Wine Tasting event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at State & A, is as simple as it is potentially delicious. Enter a soup recipe with a $25 entry fee by Feb. 18. The top five entries will be invited to participate at the Soup de l’YMCA Taste-Off at State & A on March 1. There is one very important soup contest rule: All soup entries must include at least one major ingredient that begins with one of these letters: Y-M-C-A.

State & A chefs will make the soups, local celebrity judges will choose a winner and taste-off attendees will have the opportunity — for a $15 fee — to sample soups from the five finalists. The winning recipe will be featured on the State & A menu for one year. All proceeds from the YMCA Wine Tasting event, the Soup de l’YMCA event and the raffle prizes will go to the YMCA Campaign for Youth.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” said Tim Hardy, district vice president of the Channel Islands YMCA. “All funds raised through this contest will stay right her in our community to provide our youth with life changing programs. We can’t wait to taste the winning soup!”

For more information or to request a Soup de l’YMCA entry form, send an e-mail to soupdelymca@gmail.com.

— Kate Schwab is a marketing manager for MTD Santa Barbara and team captain for the YMCA Campaign for Youth.