On November 4, the 15th Empty Bowls Project will be held in Dripping Springs to help local folks in need to fill their own bowls.
Dripping Springs Helping Hands, a group dedicated to feeding the hungry and helping out in other ways in the community, will present the project at Sunset Canyon Pottery.
Those gathering for the event will get a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind bowl, a heaping helping of soup, bread, and desert in return for a donation.
Those who donate get to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.
More than 1,000 bowls have been made by the Sunset Canyon Potters for the project and additional bowls have been donated by local potters and others around the state, said Bridget Hauser, who owns Sunset Canyon Pottery with husband Bill.
Gourmet soups are donated by area chefs and restaurants and coordinated by Emmet Fox of Asti and Fino restaurant in Austin. Emmet also brings volunteer restaurant staff to set up the soup kitchen in the studio.
In addition to the bowls of soup, visitors get to bid on items in a silent auction and listen to live music. Musicians scheduled to appear this year are Alex Dormont, Nick Lockman, and Sam Shepard. Food, pottery, music, and helping your neighbors—it’s a happy day for everyone.
Sunset Canyon has been involved with the event since the beginning, where a little over $1,000 was raised. Last year, $29,000 was the total, she said. And the goal is to reach $49,000 at the 2012 event.
Empty Bowls is an international effort to fight hunger. The largest hunger-relief organization in the United States, Feeding America, reports that 1 out of 8 Americans struggle with food insecurity every day. Millions of people have lost their jobs during the most recent recession and the number of food stamp recipients has increased dramatically.
Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom founded the Empty Bowls Project in 1990 in Michigan. Since then, Empty Bowls events have been held around the world and millions of dollars have been raised to combat hunger.
It wasn’t until Sunset Canyon got involved that Bill realized he’d gone to high school with John Hartom. “What a coincidence,” Bill said with a broad smile.
Empty Bowls helps local groups and here it’s Dripping Springs Helping Hands, an organization of more than 50 volunteers created in the holiday season of 1986 as a result of local needs.
That group provides many social services and helps people who often won’t ask for help.
“They do a lot of quiet charity here,” Bridget said.
“We’re neighbors helping neighbors,” explains Alecia Ragan, the Helping Hands liaison. “We help mostly with food, but we also help with other services.”
The Helping Hands pantry is open every Wednesday and Thursday for food distribution. Non-perishable foods are donated by individuals, churches, local businesses, service organizations, and schools. Food collection barrels are placed in a variety of community locations year-round. Fresh meat, eggs, bread, and cheese are purchased weekly from a local grocer. Volunteers go to the Capital Area Food Bank in Austin each week to collect supplemental food items.
The group helps more than 80 families a week in the Dripping Springs area, Alecia said.
Among the other things that Helping Hands does is provide school supplies for families who can’t afford to buy them. They did that for 335 children this year.
And at Christmas time, Helping Hands works on Project Elf, providing gifts for children who otherwise would not have them.
Additional food donation barrels are placed at local schools, churches, and businesses during the holidays to handle the greater volume of canned, boxed, and packaged non-perishable items.
Helping Hands is a non-profit organization that operates with an unpaid board of directors.
Sunset Canyon Pottery is located at 4002 E. US Highway 290, three miles east of Dripping Springs. For more information, call 512-894-0938 or visit their website at sunsetcanyonpottery.com. For more information on Empty Bowls, visit the website at emptybowls.net. For more information on Dripping Springs Helping Hands, call 512-858-7219 or visit the website at helpinghands-drippingsprings.org.