Lee's Summit Journal

Artful empty bowls will soon overflow with compassion

Part of the fun of the Empty Bowls event is that guests get to keep their chosen bowl.
Part of the fun of the Empty Bowls event is that guests get to keep their chosen bowl. Courtesy photo

For the past 11 years, more than 300 handcrafted ceramic bowls have overflowed with great food and community generosity at the Lee’s Summit Sunrise Rotary’s Empty Bowls event.

The fundraiser is a collaboration between the Rotary, local food sellers and metro area ceramic artists. Proceeds from this year’s event, named Feeding Our Community, have benefited numerous local assistance organizations throughout the years. Recipients of this year’s event will include Meals on Wheels, Coldwater, Lee’s Summit Social Services and One Good Meal.

This year’s event will be held Feb. 2, and tickets are on sale now for the event, which often sells out.

For more than 24 years, One Good Meal has delivered hot meals to people who are homebound in Lee’s Summit and Greenwood. The organization’s volunteers, which include 80 bakers and 55 drivers, deliver more than 30,000 meals a year.

“We provide meals every day for people in need, and Empty Bowls’ donation comes at a time when there aren’t many donations,” said Roberta McArthur, director of One Good Meal. “It’s a lifeline for us.”

The Empty Bowls event was inspired by former Sunrise Rotary member Bernell Rice. Rice, who was familiar with a similar event in another city and also was involved with Kansas City’s art community, suggested Sunrise Rotary launch its own Empty Bowls event. The event has evolved into the group’s largest annual fundraiser, generating more than $115,000 in donations since its first year. One-hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to those in need in Lee’s Summit.

The event is held each year at Longview Mansion. When guests arrive, they make their selection from a “gallery” of more than 300 one-of-a-kind ceramic bowls. Each one an original, the bowls are crafted and contributed by artists and organizations from across the city, including the KC Clay Guild, Red Star Studios, 323CLAY, Potter’s Obsession and Lee’s Summit High School art students.

With bowls in hand, contributors move on to sample soups, breads, desserts and other delicacies contributed by a dozen Lee’s Summit restaurants, food entrepreneurs and grocery stores. Some of this year’s participants include Summit Grill, The Fig Leaf, Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, Thai Spice and 3rd Street Social. Those who attend keep their bowls as a lasting reminder of the occasion’s significance for those in need.

“This event has raised my awareness level,” said Carl Froeschle, Sunrise Rotary member and director of ticket sales for Empty Bowls.

“In a community where there’s so much, there are many people in need. We have built a tradition where people get to come and enjoy delicious food, directly contribute to those in need and take home an original work of art.”

The 2019 Empty Bowls event, which also includes a silent auction, will be held Feb. 2. Tickets are $50 each. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call Carl Froeschle at 816-805-5385 or order online at www.lssunriserotary.com.