On Monday night, the potters of New Castle, in collaboration with several other local organizations, hosted a sold-out Empty Bowls event at the First Congregational Church in Chappaqua. More than 300 people attended, enjoying soups donated by local restaurants served in bowls handmade by local potters. Live music added to the festive atmosphere. And by the end of the evening, organizers were surprised to discover they’d raised way more money than expected. “Since everything was donated, we knew anything we raised would go straight to our local food pantries, so we had hoped for about $5,000,” said committee member Ruth Parnes. “As it turns out, between the tickets, the raffle sales, and the donations we received from people who couldn’t attend and those who gave more than the ticket price, we totaled $9,708!”
Guests arrived to a display of hundreds of handmade bowls from which they had the daunting task of choosing only one in which they would be served their soup. Many people circled the tables again and again, trying to decide between the many different and beautiful bowls, each a unique work of ceramic art. “More than 28 artists contributed to the creation of these bowls,” said committee member Andrea Samuelson, Director of the New Castle Art Center where the potters work and/or take classes. “It was truly a collaborative effort. Someone would make a bowl, someone else would trim it, and someone else would glaze it.” And, as one potter put it, the beneficiaries of the event were not just the food pantries. “The tangible goal was to raise money,” said committee member Anne Gans. “But in the process, we found the experience of giving up artistic ownership of the bowls added to our sense of shared community.
After choosing a bowl, guests moved on to choosing from the soups and stews provided by local restaurants and caterers. “I hope everyone takes the time to patronize our many sponsors and thank them for their generous support of our event,” said committee member Lisa Fitzgerald. “We had fabulous soups and stews from Crabtree’s Kittle House, Gail Patrick’s, Taylored Menus, Ladle of Love, Via Vanti, Jardin du Roi and King Street Restaurant and Bar. Panera and ShopRite provided bread and rolls. And at the last minute, when we realized we’d forgotten butter, the Chappaqua Diner came to our rescue, happy to load us up with boxes full of butter pats.” Volunteers cleared tables between seatings, resetting with ribbon-banded napkins rolled up with spoons and knives and placemats which acknowledged the dozens of people and organizations who supported the event, including sponsors such as Desires by Mikolay, The Cosmetic Boutique, Joe’s Repair Shop, the EyeGallery of Chappaqua, Family Britches, Ehrlich Media and Allstate agent Stephen Greenberg. Printing of brochures and placemats was donated by Accel Printing and Graphics in Mount Kisco.
Throughout the evening, local musicians contributed their talents to make it a festive community event. Horace Greeley High School a capella groups The Enchords and the Acafellas led a roster of performers that went on to include local residents David Wolff and Ken Margolis on guitar and clarinet; Barbara Doss and Shelley Robinson on violin, harp and piano; and culminating with Stephen Fancher, music director of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, improvising at the piano on classical, jazz and pop tunes with Barbara Doss again on violin. “The whole evening was designed to bring many different members and organizations in our community together for a common cause,” said committee member Penny Vane. “We had volunteers and guests from several different religious institutions, from the Art Center, from girl scouts and youth groups, and the Garden Club donated flower arrangements for our raffle. Empty Bowls is a global movement played out at the local level, and we were so proud and inspired by our community’s eagerness to participate.”
Proceeds from the event will be shared proportionately between the Mt. Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry and the Interfaith Emergency Food Pantry in Pleasantville.