Empty bowls, full hearts
Gallery 287 and Ennis Senior Center host first annual event
ENNIS – Artist and Gallery 287 owner Cathy Toot has been familiar with the nationwide “Empty Bowls” fundraiser series for quite a while, and with a selection of local potters’ work on display in her gallery, thought it was time that she brought the movement to Ennis.
“I just wanted to do something to benefit the community,” she says. “It’s a great way to get people involved, and it makes a difference.”
So, on Saturday, December 8, in coordination with the Ennis Senior Center, Gallery 287 hosted its first Empty Bowls fundraiser.
Empty Bowls first became an idea in the 1990s, and similar events have sprung up all over the United States. Artists and galleries donate handmade bowls, then guests make a donation to purchase a bowl, and receive along with it a soup dinner, complete with salad and bread.
It’s a unique way to draw attention and resources to the plight of millions of Americans who don’t reliably have enough food on the table. Last weekend’s fundraiser focused on Ennis’s Meals on Wheels program, raising money to ensure that homebound senior citizens are supplied with enough healthy meals.
Saturday’s event featured artists from Ennis, Billings, Hamilton, Virginia City, Butte and Miles City, just to name a few. There was even a featured artist from Minnesota. Many are artists whose work is on display in Toot’s gallery. Donors also purchased bowls from the gallery and donated them to the fundraiser to take their contribution a step further.
Brianna Nelson of Ennis Senior Center, Sherry Shows of the Pic-A-Nic Basket and Derek Rudzinsky of Alley Bistro donated homemade soups, plus salad and bread, and visitors packed the senior center. By the end of the evening, the over 100 bowls donated were purchased, filled, emptied and taken home. At $20 apiece, that’s around $2,000 raised to help those in need.
And Saturday’s won’t be the last Empty Bowls. Toot already has plans to make the event annual – or even twice yearly – rotating the beneficiaries of the fundraising, to continue to make an impact on her community.