Empty Bowls dinner raises funds and awareness of hunger issues

Courtesy Photo: A bunch of completed clay bowls, made by children at Tick Tock Early Learning Center for the Empty Bowls dinner, awaits a visit to the kiln.

A dinner with a symbolic twist is back for a second year in Kennett.

Sponsored by the Kennett Area Community Service, otherwise known as the Kennett Food Cupboard, the second annual Empty Bowls dinner is a way to raise funds for the non-profit organization while also attracting attention to hunger within the Kennett community.

Stacie Kucera, executive director of KACS, said that Empty Bowls is a national movement that made for a perfect fit when the KACS board was looking for a signature fundraising event.

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“It really does create awareness, it’s not just a fund raising event,” Kucera said. “It gives you a picture of what hunger does look like in our area, and how can we get involved. “

The event, held at the Red Clay Room in Kennett Square, is essentially a simple meal of soup and bread, served in a clay bowl handmade by a variety of community members.

“Last year, our youngest artist was 2-years-old, and our oldest artist was 101-years-old,” Kucera said.

The bowls come from a number of different places in the Kennett ad Unionville community, Kennett and Unionville middle and high schools, the Kennett Area Senior Center, Kendal Crosslands, Tick Tock Early Learning and the Kennett YMCA, Kucera said.

“It’s a ton of people, and an interesting and diverse group of people,” she said. “And all the bowls look completely different, and that’s really wonderful.”

At Tick Tock, located in Toughkenamon, director Jackie Maas said that the children at Tick Tock worked this summer under the guidance and inspiration of local artist Lele Galer, with the Applestone Foundation providing funds for the clay and glazes.

Maas said that they also had several high school and adult volunteers who helped the children learn to make bowls inside a plastic mold.

“This was the second summer our students had the chance to make bowls for the Empty Bowls Project and we hope to make this an annual summer camp activity,” Maas said. “Every student made two bowls so they got to choose one to keep and one to donate.”

The variety of artists, coupled with the way the bowls are fired and glazed, Kucera said, makes for an incredibly diverse selection of bowls.

“I mean, Eldreth Pottery does a firing for us in their salt kiln,” she said. “And what you end up with is a great piece of artwork from someone in the community.”

The sparseness and simplicity of the meal, Kucera said, is meant to symbolize the quality of meal someone in the community is likely having as their dinner on a regular basis.

Kucera said that last year’s event attracted over 300 people and brought in roughly $ 15,000 for the KACS.

“We were extremely pleased with those numbers for a first year event, so we’re hoping to beat that this year,” she said.

Tickets for the event are $20 and are available at the KACS, or by calling 610-925-3556. The event includes a silent auction of “celebrity bowls” made by local politicians, artists and community members.

The Empty Bowls dinner is Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Red Clay Room.