Returning to its original format with two lunches and a dinner this year, the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser in support of Newmarket's Inn From the Cold and Aurora's Welcoming Arms, was entirely sold out.
Supporters gathered at Old Town Hall in Newmarket to choose an original bowl and then fill it with a delicious soup provided by local restaurants on Thursday, Nov. 17, helping to raise more than $20,000.
Newmarket resident Mary Ridder attended for her fifth time, along with friend Jane MacCausland, saying they come to support the community.
"It’s always been wonderful. The soups are wonderful and it's great to see the businesses participating in an event like this,” MacCausland said.
Ridder added, "Everyone is always in a wonderful cheery mood. It’s pre-Christmas and it's wonderful."
The pair each chose their own bowl from the selection handcrafted by the artists of the Pine Tree Potters Guild and donated to the event. For MacCausland, it was a greenish soup bowl with little decorative handles, which she said just "spoke" to her.
Ridder chose one with painted characters on it. She said she had to make sure she got one that was different this year as in the past she has picked bowls by the same artist two years in a row and wanted to add variety to her growing bowl collection.
"It’s very, very hard to pick,” she said. “They’re all beautiful.”
Janice Butler, who was attending Empty Bowls for the first time with a friend, chose a bowl with a simple white base and a multi-coloured blue drip glaze pattern.
“My eye was drawn. I went right into the room and it was the first bowl I saw,” she said.
Butler said she when she found out the event supports two good causes and is organized by a community organization, she knew she had to come.
She said she was "shocked" by all the options of soup available. More than 20 restaurants took part in the event. They were spread across the three different meal settings — two lunches and a dinner — with eight soup options available, plus a wine bar and dinner rolls from two local bakeries.
Lisa-Marie Oliphant, the chair of Empty Bowls, said each of the participating restaurants, those serving, and the musicians had all donated their time and their talents to be there.
She said that through this year's fundraiser they have raised $20,000 and she expected that number would grow a bit more. Since 2010, they have raised $230,000. Not only are they raising money for those in need, through Inn From the Cold and Welcoming Arms, but she said they are also raising awareness.
“One of the goals of our Empty Bowls event is to create awareness and it's our hope that all who participate in Empty Bowls have the time to reflect and consider those less fortunate in our own community,” she said.
Oliphant said the bowls that go home serve as a reminder that not everyone has a full bowl.
Along with the Empty Bowls event, Pine Tree Potters Guild is holding its annual fall sale at the Old Town Hall. The sale continues today until 9 p.m., on Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.