Let's Fill Some Empty Bowls

It's time again for Empty Bowls and this year I wanted a little more background information, mostly because of my own curiosity but sharing it with you guys was a great excuse!

Heading into its 26th year, Empty Bowls began in Michigan as the brainchild of Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom.  Originally a class project, Hartom's high school art students produced ceramic bowls which were used as serving pieces for a meal of soup and bread as a fund raiser.  This idea evolved into Empty Bowls and the Imagine/RENDER Group was established with the goal "to create positive and lasting change through the arts, education, and projects that build community," (Mission Statement for Imagine/RENDER Group).
The goal of Empty Bowls was and is to provide exposure for the artists who produce the "empty bowls," while generating donations for a worthy non-profit that helps to fight hunger.  Patrons buy a ticket to their local Empty Bowls event where they receive a bowl and a meal.  Bowls are donated by local artists, school children, and various service groups.  Patrons take their bowl home and leave it empty as a daily reminder that there are people in their community who do not have enough to eat.
Over the past 26 years Empty Bowls has spread across the United States and internationally.  The McKinney event is now in its fifth year and not only strives to promote artists and a local charity, but also to generate publicity for the numerous local restaurants that provide the food.  St. Peter's Father Michael says that the goal is for this event "to be advantageous for everyone."  The restaurants get face to face time with current and potential customers in exchange for providing a certain amount of soup.  Artists get to put their work before a large pool of potential patrons.  The charity, Community Lifeline Center, receives public attention and donations.  Not to mention the publicity and overall good vibes that all of the sponsors and event organizers get.
McKinney's Empty Bowls began when a parishioner of St. Peter's Episcopal Church told the church about an Empty Bowls event that she had been to elsewhere and asked why St. Peter's didn't have an event of their own.  The first year was full of adventures and lessons learned, including Father Michael picking up all of the soup from the donating restaurants in large igloo coolers and transporting them back to St. Peter's to be served in the Church cafeteria.  Father Michael had to enlist a friend to sit in the back of his car with the soup bracing the coolers to help limit the sloshing.
The event outgrew the Church cafeteria and is now heading into its second year at the McKinney Performing Arts Center.  Father Michael says that he would like this event to continue to grow to be a whole community event, to spill out of MPAC and into the streets of downtown McKinney.  And things seem to be headed that direction.  A team was set up to coordinate the event and this year there are four churches involved: St. Peter's, First United Methodist, Parks Church, and Covenant Church.  Several schools, service organizations, and local artists volunteer their talents to this event, including the St. Peter's Artist Run Community (SPARC).  Not only are artists seeking out the opportunity to participate in Empty Bowls, but so are sponsors.  Whole Foods approached the organizers about being the presenting sponsor and also having in store events that would directly link to Empty Bowls.  The City and the Main Street Board have been very supportive, and the event actually won the McKinney Community Development Corporation's Quality of Life Award at the McKinney Chamber of Commerce's 2016 Community Awards.  MCDC also awarded Empty Bowls a grant that covers the advertising costs for the event.
The charitable beneficiary of this ever growing event has always been Community Lifeline Center.  This organization works with people in crisis.  The Empty Bowls contributions go to providing food, which Father Michael identifies as, "a piece of a larger puzzle."  Food is one aspect of how Community Lifeline Center provides short-term assistance to Collin County residence that are in need.
Event Information:
When: Thursday, April 14th, from 5:30  to 7:30 p.m.
Where: McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N Tennessee St, McKinney, TX 75069
For more information on this event, to purchase tickets, and/or a list of sponsors, vendors, artists, etc. visit the Empty Bowls website here.
I hope to see you all there!

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