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February 28, 2013

Seventh annual Empty Bowls fundraiser set

Cooperstown Crier

---- — The seventh annual Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Cooperstown Food Bank will be held on Saturday, March 2.

Festivities will take place from noon to 2 p.m., at the Cooperstown Veterans Club. It is a community event that combines the volunteer work of local students, restaurants, chefs and almost 30 artists who provide the choice of a variety of warm, soups and breads, served in artistic, handmade bowls. A $15 donation is requested. Empty Bowls is sponsored by Gordon B. Roberts Agency and New York Central Mutual.

Seven years ago, the event showcased barely 100 bowls, according to organizer Donna Bailey-Mackie. She added: “And we thought that was a lot. That’s how it got started and it’s grown every year. Last year, we had 300 bowls and raised $7,400 for the food bank.”

In its six years, Empty Bowls has donated more than $31,000 to the Food Bank, according to organizers.

Eileen Hoffman, a former Cooperstown educator and artist, creates bowls for the event. She and other artist/educators turn the bowls over to local students, who craft their own designs on them.

“The bottom line for me,” said Hoffman in a media release, “is that for anyone to be able to turn personal skills into good work for the community is a gift. What a great thing; to do work not to earn money, but to turn it into money for fellow students and your community.”

Hoffman said that the vast number of hands that create the event adds to its heartwarming charm.

“That’s also a wonderful part of it.” she said in the release. “There are 300 bowls, with a variety of expression of what is a bowl. Children have different energy and adult potters each have a different aesthetic. Everybody who comes finds a piece they like, that speaks to them.”

The event is also just simply fun, Bailey-Mackie said.

“Everybody has cabin fever by this time of year,” she said in the release. “People start lining up usually around 11 a.m. It’s a great community time, to come out, see one another and do some good work at the same time. There’s a lot of smiles. People have a good time picking out the bowls and eating together. Even the (volunteer) servers and kitchen staff have fun.”

“What I really want my former students to know,”  Hoffman said, “is that many people who need the food bank are full-time employed, or under-employed, doing everything they can to put food on the table. These are our people, these are kids walking around the halls of area schools.”