Las Cruces Magazine

Fall/Winter 2015-16

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28 I lascrucesmagazine.com superb grouping of artists and artisans, excellent restaurants, and a host of kind-hearted and generous citizens are all part of what make Las Cruces such a great place to live. So when a charitable event manages to bring all of the above together, it naturally becomes one of the most popular annual gatherings in the Mesilla Valley. At Empty Bowls, an affair hosted by the Potters' Guild of Las Cruces in support of El Caldito Soup Kitchen, the guests start lining up hours before the doors open and the queue literally stretches all the way down the block. The Las Cruces event has been going on for over 20 years now, but its roots run much further. The concept began in 1990 with a Michigan school teacher hoping to donate to a local food bank. The idea caught on and is now an international grassroots movement with events taking place all across the US and in at least a dozen other countries. "The basic principle is simple," states the movement's website, emptybowls. net. "Potters and other craftspeople work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity." Original chairperson and Potters' Guild member Cally Williams met the Empty Bowls founder at a conference and brought the concept home with her. It took a little over a year to get off the ground, but in 1993 the Potters' Guild of Las Cruces hosted the first Empty Bowls in the state of New Mexico. Groups in Albuquerque and Santa Fe have since jumped on board with their own fundraisers. "As potters we rely on the community for our sales and support, so this is a way for us to give back," explains Cally, who also founded and continues to head up the silent auction portion of the event. The bowls come from a variety of local artists and craftspeople, from high school and university students to serious throwers who make their livings selling their creations. Many, however, come from the annual Bowl-A-Thon, brainchild of well-known local potter Jan Archey. Every summer at New Mexico State University's Williams Hall, dozens of potters gather to collaborate on hundreds of bowls. "Several hands touch each bowl," says Potters' Guild member Cynthia Waddell who got involved after taking one of Jan's classes. "There is a workday where lots of bowls are made, and then someone else may paint it, and another may fire and glaze it or trim it out and refine it. It's a great way for potters to do what they love, which is making bowls, and support the community at the same time." Bowl-A-Thon has been taking place since the very first year and it, and the entire Empty Bowls event, has only gotten bigger and better over the years. In 1993, Tatsu restaurant donated all the soup and 448 bowls were sold. The second year, more than 600 bowls were sold. It's steadily grown over the years with almost 1,200 bowls donated, approximately 800 tickets sold, and more than 50 local restaurants contributing soups in 2014. Bowls come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and sizes, while soup concoctions range from fan favorites like minestrone and chicken tortilla to the unexpected, such as a chilled pineapple kale. Volunteers from the Potters' Guild and El Caldito are on hand with ladles and smiles filling bowls and serving bread. Charitable spirits join forCes to fight hunger a Community Filling Empty Bowls

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