Empty Bowl fundraiser stocks larder for soup kitchen

Melody Jacobsen, 12, of Grand Junction expresses her preference of one of the two handmade bowls her mother Lori is trying to decide between at the Empty Bowls fundraiser Saturday at Catholic Outreach.



There were hundreds of bowls arranged on tables in the dining room at Grand Valley Catholic Outreach — bowls with scalloped edges or textured exteriors, shallow bowls and deep ones, painted with flowers or fish or curls and squiggles, representing every color of the rainbow.

So many bowls, empty at the beginning and the end, but in the middle filled with luscious soup, temptingly steamy on a cold Colorado Saturday.

The soup was wonderful, but the event was called Empty Bowls, a reminder that every day in the Grand Valley, bowls and stomachs are empty.

As it has been for the past 16 years, Saturday’s Empty Bowls will be the main annual fundraiser for the Grand Valley Catholic Outreach soup kitchen, which serves an average of 275 meals every day to people who are homeless or vagrant or who are simply experiencing a rough patch.

“The need is consistent through the year,” explained Sister Karen Bland, executive director of Grand Valley Catholic Outreach.

Last year, she said, Empty Bowls raised $30,000 and this year’s goal was $35,000. It seemed a goal likely to be met as the line to get into the event began forming at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and curled around the Catholic Outreach building.

Bland estimated that the event drew between 900 and 1,000 people this year.

Artists from around the area donated more than 900 hand-crafted bowls, Bland said, and area restaurants donated gourmet soups.

“I had the sweet potato chowder and it was wonderful,” said Sister Anne Brost, a member of the Whitewater Community near Kannah Creek.

She attended the event as a way to support the work of the soup kitchen, “because a lot of us can’t volunteer here regularly, but coming to an event like this is something that we can do.”
Tickets to the event were $25 per person, and all proceeds went directly to the soup kitchen since all the food and supplies were donated, Bland said.

Michelle Jarvis and her mother, Chris Bair, both of Grand Junction, bought their tickets and happily sat down with steaming bowls of corn chowder and chicken chili. Jarvis said she’s previously volunteered at the soup kitchen, “but this is the first time I’ve been here in the dining room,” she said. “This is such a wonderful place.”

They fit Empty Bowls in the itinerary of a girls’ day that also included make-up time and a movie, and it was a memorable part of an already great day.
“We’re just happy to be here,” Bair said, “supporting the work they do here.”


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