A granddaughter creates a snowman in a blizzard with her grandfather. Out-of-town visitors walk in for the first time and paint bowls for the fun of it. Community members end up trading bowls and enjoying the meal they had in them but remembering there are still more needing ongoing food.
From start to finish, Empty Bowls is a long artistic and culinary process, but a worthy one for Friends in Service Helping and Ogres-Holm Pottery to remind Carson City residents about food insecurity in the area through the upcoming holiday event.
Empty Bowls, an international effort taking place on a local level next month, gives artists, guests and groups a chance to create their own handcrafted bowls and to donate them to help those in need. If they wish, they donate them to the event. They attend and enjoy soups, chilis, spaghettis and anything else that can be served from a bowl. Participants go home with the personalized dishes to keep as reminders that there are empty bowls signifying those who are continuously hungry in the community.
This year, Carson City’s Empty Bowls event takes place from 3 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Carson Mall, 1313 S. Carson St. The event is covered by donations, which includes tickets for dinner and a bowl at a cost of $15 or $5 for dinner only.
Cash donations support FISH to assist individuals to give them a hand up rather than a handout, staff members say.
“It’s getting the whole community involved,” executive director Jim Peckham said. “And people are always amazed. They say, ‘Well, we don’t really have homeless here in Carson City.’ And we say, ‘Well, 225 people aren’t ‘anybody.’ ”
Last year, FISH saw a 30 percent increase in participation at its Empty Bowls event, Peckham said. It was held indoors and was separate of the Christmas tree lighting. It helped that it was apart from other outdoor activities along Carson City’s Capitol steps to bring more people to the warm food.
“Probably only about 15 percent of our clients are homeless and 85 percent are just low-income and because they don’t have churches and family relationships that help them through tough times, we do that,” he said. “So it’s a great celebration. People love to get there early to get their favorite bowl.”
Empty Bowls produces about $10,000 in donations that go back to the food bank and to services for the homeless and hungry.
The funds assist low-income populations, mainly, of which FISH’s clientele makes up about 85 percent and the other 15 percent are homeless. Most lack family relationships or church friends to rely on for extra support.
Preparing for Empty Bowls is a highlight of the year for many community members, Peckham said. FISH’s partnership with Ogres-Holm Pottery at the Carson Mall has been fruitful. In the past, while FISH would order premade bowls, Ogres-Holm saw an increase this year in the number of community members coming into its store to make them. Its kilns have been busy from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, its night dedicated to exclusively to Empty Bowls.
“We are just a bunch of potters and people from the community,” Moore said. “Every year, we turn over every penny. … And it’s just been astonishing to have that kind of partnership (with FISH) because we couldn’t pull off an event this size.”
But Ogres-Holm chairman Chelsea Lavender warns interested potters to be careful about coming into the shop.
“If you come down here, you’re probably going to fall in love” with creating and getting into pottery and painting, she said.
And for Moore, Lavender and Moore’s son, studio manager Lucas Lamont, every story customers bring to the studio is just as unique as the art they create, she said.
“They all know I won’t remember them if I meet them in the grocery store,” Moore said. “It gets a little crazy. … But that’s what Ogres-Holm is … It’s a hobby that has run amuck.”
Carson Mall owner Carrington Co. donates its space to the event, which offsets the major cost of the event itself, and a number of restaurateurs come together to offer their specialties to fill the bowls.
FISH’s manager of food distribution, volunteers and events Gillian Murdock said culinary contributors Basque Deli, San Marcos Grill, Red’s, Duke’s and the Farmer’s Market and more will offer something special this year.
“The bowl makers are artists and so are the chefs,” Murdock said.
Guests this year can expect a pumpkin soup and cream of mushroom soup. Last year, they enjoyed split pea soup and casseroles eaten out of the bowls.
FISH’s operations manager Jayme Durkee said tickets to the event have been presold at the farmer’s market, the Nevada State Fair and other community programs. Those who purchase tickets enjoy the option of choosing their design.
“They definitely like going through the bowls and seeing what they like and from different angles,” she said. “Is it going to be in the kitchen or in the living room, and ask ‘What pattern do I like?’ or ‘Do you have anything yellow with butterflies?’ ”
For information about Empty Bowls or to purchase tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/empty-bowls-carson-city-volunteer-tickets-68572033799 or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/emptybowlscarsoncity/.