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Empty Bowls event for food bank Saturday

November 30, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Those attending the fifth annual Empty Bowls Event at the Alliance for the Arts, Fort Myers, on Saturday, Dec. 1, will be able to select a beautiful handmade ceramic bowl created and donated by Lee County students. The popular event, which will feature 700 bowls, will be held between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Admission is a $10 donation to the Harry Chapin Food Bank; this donation entitles the individual to select a bowl and receive a variety of soup selections from local restaurants. Not only would the selected bowl be a wonderful, useful item in the home, but the purchase of an additional bowl would also make an excellent gift.

In addition, those attending will be able to participate in a silent auction of special bowls provided by artisans. Panera Bread is the presenting sponsor of the event. Lehigh Senior High School art teacher Suzie Somogyi is serving again this year as the chair for the Empty Bowls committee.

Students at the following Lee County schools are busy making the bowls for the event: Cape Coral High School, James Stephens International Academy, Paul Lawrence Dunbar Middle School, North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts, Lehigh Acres Middle School, Trafalgar Middle School, Edison Park Elementary School, Lehigh Senior High School, Hispanic Honor Society Volunteers, Mariner High School, Orange River Elementary School, Franklin Park Elementary School, student volunteers of Jennifer Hambling, Alva Middle School, Cypress Lake High School, Sanibel School, San Carlos Park Elementary School, and Canterbury School.

Ten local restaurants to date will be providing tasty soups for the event and Panera Bread Caf will offer hearty bread to accompany the soups. Early commitments include the following: Jason's Deli, Vegetarian Vegetable; University Grill, Pasta Fagioli; Prawnnbroker, Manhattan Clam Chowder; Panera Bread, Broccoli Cheddar; Oasis, Chicken Noodle; LaMotta's, Minestrone; Mel's Diner, Turkey Noodle; Christof's on McGregor, Acorn Squash; McGregor Caf, TBD; and Sweet Tomatoes, Chicken Pot Pie.

Celebrities will again be serving up the soup. To date, celebrity servers are Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson; Lee County Commissioners John Manning and Tammy Hall; School Board members Mary Fischer, Tom Scott, and Don Armstrong; Lee County School Board Superintendent Joseph Burke; Lydia Black, Alliance for the Arts; Doug MacGregor, cartoonist, writer, and illustrator; Lois Thome, WINK-TV; Allman, Walmart; Robert Van Winkle, NBC-2; Francesca Donlan, the Beaches of Ft. Myers and Sanibel VCB; and Stephanie Davis, Downtown Diva.

Attendees will be entertained with performances by Varsity Lakes Middle School Step Team, Trafalgar Elementary Recorder Group, Lehigh Senior High School Dancers, Paul Lawrence Dunbar Jazz Band, Oak Hammock Middle School Dance Team, and Fort Myers Middle Academy Guitars/sm. Group. Pottery demonstrations throughout the event will be provided by Chas Bean and Theresa West-Taylo.

Art teacher John Hartom initiated the Empty Bowls project in 1990-91 when he joined a drive to raise charitable funds in his Michigan community. Hartom's idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference. Hartom's students made ceramic bowls in their high school art classes. The finished products were then used as individual serving pieces for a fund-raising meal of soup and bread. Contributing guests kept the "empty bowl" as a symbol of the need to feed the hungry.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank solicits, collects and stores quality food for distribution to families in need through a network of 160 nonprofit agencies in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte and Glades counties that provide food to more than 30,000 people monthly. More than 1 million pounds of food are distributed by the Harry Chapin Food Bank monthly. For every dollar donated, about $6 in food value goes back to the community. In the past fiscal year, the Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed more than 15 million pounds of food and other grocery items valued at more than $24.9 million. This is roughly the equivalent of 12.5 million meals to people in need.

For additional information about or to contribute financially to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, contact 334-7007 or go to



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