Barbara Philipps, Mary Beth DiVincenzo and Evelyn Mercantini smile for a photo at Floris United Methodist Church on Frying Pan Road in Herndon. The ninth annual Empty Bowls event was well attended and all proceeds went directly to nonprofit Food for Others.
Photo by Ryan Dunn.
Friday evening, April 8, the ninth annual Empty Bowls event was hosted by the Giving Circle of HOPE at Floris United Methodist Church on Frying Pan Road in Herndon. All proceeds went directly to Food for Others, the largest distributor of free food to needy people in Northern Virginia. “This was a record breaker,” said event volunteer Evelyn Mercantini. The event was well attended, and approximately 500 tickets were sold for the evening fundraising event.
The Giving Circle of HOPE, was founded in January 2004 with four members. Since then the membership has grown to over 100 diverse members, women and men of all ages, backgrounds and professional experience. While Fairfax County is one of the richest in America, almost 6 percent of its residents live below the federal poverty threshold. The cost of living in Fairfax County is 40 percent higher than the national median. One goal of the event is to raise awareness of food insecurity in Northern Virginia.
Empty Bowls is a grassroots program designed to help end hunger in the United States and worldwide. It was developed by John Hartom, a Michigan art teacher who came up with the idea when he joined a community drive to raise charitable funds. At the event, for a small donation, guests receive a soup supper and a handmade ceramic bowl as a reminder there are those in the community who have empty bowls.
The Great Harvest Bread Company franchise in Herndon provided bread with the soups. Great Harvest Bread Company has supported Giving Circle of HOPE’s Empty Bowl event since the beginning eight years ago. Other area companies which donated food items this year included Amphora, Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern, Not Your Average Joe’s, Red’s Table, and Westin-Sheraton Hotel. “This is a rare charity event where all ages can come together, there is a lot of camaraderie,” said Reston resident and volunteer Roseanne Kelly.
“Last year we raised over $36,000 in food, ticket sales, sponsorships and donations. We expect that we broke last year’s record. We had an amazing Planning Committee who had the remarkable ability to work independently, then cooperate seamlessly to host another successful fundraiser,” said Mercantini. Many volunteers for this annual event return, as did Barbara Philipps, who helps coordinate volunteers from area Girl Scout troops. This was Philipps fourth year helping with this fundraiser.
The Reston and Herndon pottery classes at their respective community centers made hundreds and hundreds of ceramic bowls for the Empty Bowls fundraiser to benefit Food for Others. Pottery was also donated by the Bowman House, Clay Connection and the Audrey Moore Rec Center at Wakefield Park. This year 683 pieces of pottery were donated for this event.
Eighteen Girl Scout troops helped work the event. The local Girl Scout troops, leaders and parents are an intricate and invaluable piece of this event, as they refilled drinks, cleaned and bussed tables, greeted guests and helped pick out their bowls upon arrival. As one raffle coordinators, Anne Overbey, said about the Girl Scouts, “they were marvelous – smart, totally on the case with good ideas – pleasant – an asset in every way!”