Hopkins finds recipe for success with Empty Bowls

Fundraiser netted $70,474 for ResourceWest, ICA Foodshelf

By Gabby Landsverk, Sun Sailor Newspapers

More than 1,500 servings of soup warmed the hearts and bellies of Hopkins residents March 7 for the 19th annual Empty Bowls event, raising $70,474 for local charities ResourceWest and ICA Foodshelf.
“I thought it was awesome. I was struck by how many people were there. Everyone knew each other, ran into neighbors or old friends, or they made new friends,” said Monica Salden, communications specialist for ICA Food Shelf. “It was beautiful.”

 A young Hopkins resident decided on soup served by the Women’s Club at the Empty Bowls event, March 7, at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.  (Sun Sailor staff photos by Gabby Landsverk)
A young Hopkins resident decided on soup served by the Women’s Club at the Empty Bowls event, March 7, at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. (Sun Sailor staff photos by Gabby Landsverk)

Residents and community members from Hopkins and the surrounding area packed the Hopkins Center for the Arts throughout the day for a free meal of soup and bread, live music and fellowship, leaving a free will donation in support of filling the “empty bowls” of community members in need through ICA and ResourceWest.

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Two guests at the Hopkins Empty Bowls event selected their bowls from the hundreds handmade by Hopkins Schools students and community members for the fundraiser event. In exchange for a free will donation, guests receive a meal of soup and bread, enjoy live music, and take home one of the custom bowls.

The crowd included school district leaders, local police departments, city council members, business owners and families, making for a diverse and lively crowd, said community co-chair Amy Saldanha.
“I had never been to the event before, and I thought it was incredible. It really highlights our community in Hopkins, how everyone comes together and gets things done,” Saldanha said. “It’s just a beautiful day in Hopkins. You look around and are reminded how special Hopkins is. I’ve never seen a fundraiser that’s equal parts fundraiser and community event.”

A young Hopkins resident and her mother enjoyed a free serving of soup, served by a friendly volunteer, at the 19th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser in Hopkins. (Sun Sailor photos by Gabby Landsverk)
A young Hopkins resident and her mother enjoyed a free serving of soup, served by a friendly volunteer, at the 19th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser in Hopkins. 

The first Empty Bowls in Hopkins was organized by Barb Westmoreland, volunteer and community partnership coordinator at Hopkins Schools, who will retire this year. Other community members from ICA and ResourceWest have stepped up to take her place.
“This is Barb’s brainchild. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. She’s just a genius, a Hopkins treasure,” Saldanha said.
Ron Kamps, the event’s other community co-chair, described Westmoreland as the “Mother Teresa of Empty Bowls.”
“She was there teaching us the ropes, so it went great. She’s done a really excellent job,” Kamps said. Since its inception, the event has raised a total of more than $1 million for local charities.
As part of the tradition, more than 1,300 bowls were handcrafted by students, teachers, artists and community members across the Hopkins School District and donated to the event.
“We had just a tremendous number of people. It’s great that people can donate or just come for a bowl of soup,” said Peg Keenan, executive director of ICA Foodshelf. “It’s a wonderful community get-together and it really makes a different for ICA Foodshelf and ResourceWest.”

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An addition 318 volunteers made the program possible this year, along with 40 sponsors.
Next year the fundraiser will celebrate 20 years of giving back to the community with an extra-special event, already scheduled for March 13, 2018.
“We’re always looking for more volunteers. It’s such a good event. We’re already looking forward to next year,” Salden said.

Contact Gabby Landsverk at [email protected]