The seventh annual Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Cooperstown Food Bank is scheduled for noon to 2 p.m.* Saturday at the Cooperstown Veterans Club.
The community event, which combines the volunteer work of local students, restaurants chefs and almost 30 artists, provides a selection of soups and breads served in unique, artistic handmade bowls. A $15 donation is requested. Empty Bowls is sponsored by Gordon B. Roberts Agency and New York Central Mutual.
Seven years ago, the event showcased barely 100 bowls, organizer Donna Bailey-Mackie said in a media release, adding: “And we thought that was a lot. That’s how it got started, and it’s grown every year. Last year, we had 300 bowls and raised $7,400 for the food bank.”
Since it began, Empty Bowls has donated more than $31,000 to the food bank.
Eileen Hoffman, a former Cooperstown educator and artist, is among those who have created bowls for the event. The finished vessels are turned over to local students, who craft their own designs on them.
“The bottom line for me is that for anyone to be able to turn personal skills into good work for the community is a gift,” Hoffman said in the release. “What a great thing; to do work not to earn money, but to turn it into money for fellow students and your community.”
Hoffman said that the event is special because of the large number of people involved in making it happen.
“That’s also a wonderful part of it — there are 300 bowls, with a variety of expression of what is a bowl,” she said. “Children have different energy, and adult potters each have a different aesthetic. Everybody who comes finds a piece they like, that speaks to them.”
Bailey-Mackie said the event is a fun and friendly one that brings together friends and neighbors during the dark days of winter.
“Everybody has cabin fever by this time of year,” she said. “People start lining up usually around 11. It’s a great community time, to come out, see one another and do some good work at the same time. There’s a lot of smiles. People have a good time picking out the bowls and eating together. Even the (volunteer) servers and kitchen staff have fun.”
Hoffman said that, as enjoyable as the event is, it also sends an important message.
“What I really want my former students to know,” Hoffman said, “is that many people who need the food bank are full-time employed, or under-employed, doing everything they can to put food on the table. These are our people, these are kids walking around the halls of area schools.”
*Editor's note: This story was changed at 1:45 p.m. Feb. 25 to correct the time of the event.