By Agnes CONSTANTE
In an effort to help the hungry, the Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church sponsored a fundraising event on Nov. 12 involving handmade ceramic bowls and a variety of soups.
The event, “Empty Bowls: Hope Not Hunger,” took place at the Methodist church on Montrose Avenue and ran from 4:30 to 8 p.m.
More than 400 people had soup and bread for dinner that evening, and more than $7,000 was raised through the event.
“For our church, it’s important both to do acts of compassion … and it’s important for us to do acts of justice, to advocate for policies that create a circle of protection for the poor,” said Pastor Paige Eaves of CV United Methodist Church. “And so this [event] is an act of compassion.”
Patrons who attended donated $15 and received a handmade ceramic bowl of their choice. Then they had their bowls filled with soup and ate it with bread.
“Then they take the empty bowl home and it reminds them of hunger,” said Jeanne Lavieri, a ceramics teacher at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge who helped make the bowls and is member of the church.
Empty Bowls is a national idea that started 20 years ago in the Midwest.
“A lot of potters do it because it’s a way for [them] to raise money for hunger and do something they love doing at the same time,” said Lavieri.
Lavieri estimated that the La Cañada Community Center made between 300 and 400 bowls this year. Another 79 bowls were donated by Crescenta Valley High School, and there were also leftover bowls from previous years.
In addition to dinner and handmade dishes, patrons also got to listen to live music and were entered in a raffle for the chance to win some prizes (including tickets to the Grammy Museum, gift baskets, and handmade gifts by the Montrose Peace Vigil).
Even with the chilly weather during the weekend, people came out to support the fundraiser.
“It’s a good way for the community to come together for a good cause,” said Glendale resident Debbie Edwards.
This was her second time attending the event.
“I had a good memory from last year’s experience. We met neighbors here who we didn’t know were going to be here. It was fun to see other people from the community,” she said.
Proceeds went to organizations chosen by Eaves, including The Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Congregations’ Friends In Deed House, Tujunga United Methodist Church’s Bailey Human Care Center and Christians Concerned for Burma.
“[Our pastor] chose [charities] that were close to us,” said Lavieri. “We also had a member who was very much connected with Christians Concerned for Burma. He went to Burma several times and was very motivated to help the people there.”
Recipient charities have found the donations from the event helpful.
“We appreciate this so much,” said Pat O’Reily, executive director of the Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Congregations.
The Friends In Deed Food Pantry serves 2,000 low-income and homeless individuals each month.
“We’ve received $2,800 to $3,000 from this particular event each year for the past three years.
“And in addition, I get the most wonderful bowls. I love my bowls. I eat out of these bowls every morning, I’ve given them for Christmas presents … so I look forward to this event.”
Restaurants and community members donated soup for the evening, including DISH of La Cañada, which contributed about two to three gallons of soup.
“Our philosophy is we never say no when anyone ever asks to us participate in a local charity, school, church, or club. We always say yes,” said Kevin Finch from DISH. “We try to help where we can.”
Other donors included Frank’s Famous Kitchen & Bakery, Hill Street Café, Joselito’s, Zeke’s Smokehouse, Leo’s All-Star Bar and Grill, the Schmutzer family, Cathy McElveen, Alan del Castillo, Kay Sclimenti and Jeanne Lavieri.
This is the fourth time the church has held this event.