Empty Bowls is a concept that was created in the Midwest and eventually copied by fundraisers globally, Lavieri said. It allows multiple community groups and individuals to collaborate in making bowls by hand, donating soup and hosting a dinner event with an important cause, she said.
“You know that this was made by someone who wants to help,” Lavieri said of the bowls. “And it’s bought by someone who wants to help, so it’s a connection of caring.”
The evening event charged $15 for a ceramic bowl and serving of soup. Volunteers made more than 500 bowls out of recycled clay for no cost, Lavieri said, and filled them with soup donated by local restaurants. A ceramics class from Crescenta Valley High School donated another 100 bowls.
The funds raised will be especially important since there has been an increasing need to raise money for community nonprofits, said the Rev. Paige Eaves, who is a member of the Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Churches, an organization focused on community service.
“I started hearing early when the number of families coming in [to aid organizations] was going up and the number of donations was going down,” said Eaves, explaining that Lavieri’s suggestion to use the Empty Bowls concept made community members actively involved in a fundraising process that proved funds were available.
“I don’t think people want to run around scared and selfish,” Eaves said, referring to a possible effect of the nation’s economic crisis on individuals. “I think they want a reason to be good.”
The money raised Saturday will go be divided to support three local groups: the Ecumenical Council’s Friends in Deed House, Loaves and Fishes food pantry and Christians Concerned for Burma, an organization that assists tribes displaced by the government of Myanmar.
A mix of locals attended the event, which also featured musical performances, a silent auction and table decorations that included world hunger statistics.
“As we’re eating our dinner, it reminds us of people who have no food to eat,” said Randy Hall, who had just filled his empty bowl with soup. “It’s partly because of the simplicity of the meal; that soup is such a basic thing to eat, and so many people need basic nourishment to survive.”
“It’s kind of neat that I can take home a bowl,” said Eva Norman, who also performed “Here Comes Treble” with her singing ensemble.
Volunteers met with Lavieri every week for the last six months to make the bowls, all of which had varying styles, Lavieri said.
The weekly activity had become a routine for Gigi Schmutzer, who was hoping to continue her hands-on effort at raising aid money.