By Michael J. ARVIZU
Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church (CVUMC) held its fifth annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on Nov. 10 where, for $15, guests could buy a handmade ceramic bowl and fill it with their choice of soup provided by area restaurants.
But the event was about more than just eating a gourmet soup. The 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. event raised $5,533, money that will go to support three charitable organizations, including Pasadena-based Friends in Deed House, Tujunga United Methodist Church-based Bailey Human Care Center, and Thailand-based Christians Concerned for Burma.
“A lot of us feel that the church should be more than just an hour on Sunday ¬– it’s building and fostering community,” said Tim Parks, a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in La Crescenta, of the event. “This is part of how we do that.”
In Burma (also known as Myanmar), recent ethnic violence has claimed the lives of almost 200 people, and displaced thousands more, in the western part of the country. The money raised through Empty Bowls is only a fraction of the funds Christians Concerned for Burma needs to provide displaced villagers with food, mosquito netting, medical supplies, and other necessities.
“People, primarily Christian groups, are supporting and sending money knowing that a few dollars of our money goes a long way,” said Sylvia Gorsuch, a volunteer for Christians Concerned for Burma.
Friends in Deed House, a service of the Ecumenical Council Pasadena Area Congregations,feeds approximately 2,000 people a month through its pantry in Pasadena. The organization also provides a bad weather homeless shelter, and offers a homeless prevention program. Tujunga United Methodist Church’s Bailey Human Care Center offers food and clothing to those in need.
“It’s important for people to support our pantry so that we are able to run our pantry,” said the Rev. Pat O’Reilly, executive director of Friends in Deed. “Without our support to the community, many people would go hungry.”
A variety of soups were provided by area restaurants, including a cream of zucchini soup by Frank’s Famous in Montrose/Glendale, a cream of potato soup courtesy of Hill Street Café in La Cañada, and a hot and sour soup prepared by New Moon Chinese restaurant in Montrose. The clay bowls for sale were handmade by students in the nonprofit Creative Arts Group in Sierra Madre. Members of the Montrose Peace Vigil and students in the ceramic arts class at Crescenta Valley High School also contributed bowls, said CVUMC Pastor Rev. Paige Eaves.
“We directly assist people and give the money away quickly,” said Eaves. “We appreciate the opportunity to share our church and the outreach of our church and that so many people agree to be part of that with us.”
This year, CVUMC partnered with Bread for the World in promoting the national faith-based organization’s efforts to protect the interests of poor people through charity and social justice.
“Bread for the World is sort of a ‘Jesus’ term from John: ‘I am the bread of the world,’” said Paige. “So that we manifest Jesus in the world, not only by our compassionate acts of giving, but also by our acts of justice, as we seek a world where there is no poverty and we don’t need to run events like this anymore.”