Empty Bowls 2007 event fills food bank coffers
Families streamed through the doors of the Melrose Avenue School. Mothers pushed baby strollers and groups of young friends joined each other in the cafeteria. Smiles abounded between sips of soups and admirations of artwork. The third annual Empty Bowls event was a bountiful success.
"It's bundles and bundles of soup fun," Chris Croteau of North Kingstown remarked about the fund-raising event. Croteau sampled stew, soups, and pasta with other teens from on and off the island to help raise money for the Rhode Island Food Bank. The students agreed on the importance to promote mindfulness of those who struggle for a nourishing meal. "It's a great way to create awareness of charity," he added. All money raised will be donated directly to the food bank.
Hand-made bowls, over 600 in all, were on display. Most of the bowls were made by children and parents of Jamestown, with about 100 bowls donated from professional potters, noted organizer Liz Perez. Participants pored over the bowls with admiration.
This year, art students from North Kingstown High School also contributed their masterpieces, thanks to the efforts of two high school art teachers. So much excitement has been stirred up about the goodwill effort that other teachers have already pledged their participation for next year, Perez added.
Guests chose their favorite bowl, and then had it filled with their choice of soup. "People choose bowls that represent their personality," commented islander and high school sophomore Eliza Chase. Chase and her friends have participated every year since the fund-raiser was conceived in 2005. "It's easier to coordinate now because we know what we're doing," added resident Lizzie Gooding, another sophomore.
The teen volunteers admitted that they can get community service hours for participation, but many attended for enjoyment. "Eating food and being with friends is a big part of it," said Jamestowner Rachael Perry.
Julia Montiminy and Trish Van Cleef, also organizers for the evening, were spotted directing young volunteers to pass out desserts and clean up as new rounds of diners flowed through the doors. "Make sure you get something to eat," they urged people in passing.
Behind the scene in the school kitchen, Anne Marie Deffley, a local caterer, led another group of adult volunteers in cooking and filling bowls for hungry people in line. She has cooked all the food for the event for the last three years. "I like to cook, and this is for a worthy cause," Deffley said with a smile as she stirred noodles in an over-sized pot.
By opening their pocketbooks to the food bank, visitors received a delicious meal and were allowed to take the bowls, each complemented with a hand-sewn napkin and soup spoon.
Perez gave much credit for the success of the dinner to military families living on the island. "Military families are a huge part of Jamestown," she said. Perez also thanked local merchants House of Pizza and the Village Hearth for