For all the things that Empty Bowls is to so many people in Carlisle, maybe the simplest explanation came from Heather Flaherty’s daughter.
Flaherty recalled that her daughter was little when they first attended the event that became a family tradition, and the day after they attended the event a friend asked her what she had done.
“She said, ‘We went to help people and also understand what it’s like to be hungry because you get just a little bit of soup and you’re still really hungry afterwards and that’s the way a lot of people feel all the time,’” Flaherty said.
The 28th annual Empty Bowls, held Monday night, featured more than 250 bowls and vases created by artists and local community members, including a number of bowls created by children at Create-a-Palooza.
The event is a partnership between Carlisle Arts Learning Center, Project SHARE and Dickinson College with all proceeds going to Project SHARE for its food distribution and education programs.
“Every year you have people across the community, all ages, all backgrounds, coming together for this one really important event,” Flaherty said.
Project SHARE board chair Diane Baltaeff, who also played with By The Way, the band that provided the music at the event, said Empty Bowls is a way to remind people that there are a lot of people in the region who have food insecurity. It’s also a way to support those neighbors in need.
“It shows that we all care, and all want to come together to really make a difference in our community. Project SHARE, we just can’t do it on our own, nor can other organizations do it on their own,” she said.
Not only does the event bring attention to food insecurity, it also showcases the strength of the arts, said Becky Richeson, executive director of CALC.
“The power of the arts is that it brought the community together, provided the bowls and created the memories,” she said.
“This is an annual event that everyone looks forward to, not only at Project SHARE but at Carlisle Arts Learning Center and in the community,” said Robert Weed, Project SHARE’s executive director.
Monday’s event sold out, and had the highest attendance of the past 3-4 years, he said.
With that many people attending, guests have to arrive early to get first pick of the bowls arranged on the center table. George and Betty Reese of Carlisle arrived at 5 p.m. for the 6 p.m. event, spending the time talking to others in line and peeking in the door to get a glimpse of the bowls.
“We missed a couple of years, but we’re back now,” Betty said.
The couple said they use the bowls they select at the event, and have broken only a few out of their collection.
“They’re pretty sturdy. They’re made pretty well,” George said.
The fundraiser comes at an important time of the year for Project SHARE. After helping their clients through the holidays, the organization moves into the winter months when there is not a lot of fresh produce available locally. That’s when they rely on contributions from the community to help them purchase food, Weed said.
“We have an extremely generous community who come out to an event like this knowing that it’s going to support a great cause and help their neighbors,” he said.