Empty Bowls fundraiser set for March 21 at Peddie

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Fill an empty bowl and fill a food pantry at the fifth annual “Empty Bowls” fundraiser, which is set for March 21 at The Peddie School’s cafeteria in Hightstown Borough.

The event, which will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., is the brainchild of Hightstown Cultural Arts Commission Chairman Ann Marie Miller and Vice Chairman Adam Welch.

Tickets for the event cost $35, and entitle participants to select a one-of-a-kind bowl and fill it with a hot meal from one of nearly a dozen eateries. Tickets may be purchased online through Eventbrite and at the Perennial Home on Ward Street in Hightstown.

Proceeds will benefit the food pantry at RISE, the “Send Hunger Packing” initiative through the Mercer Street Friends, the Better Beginnings child care center. It will also help support the Hightstown Cultural Arts Commission and its public art program.

“The Cultural Arts Commission is delighted to share proceeds from ‘Empty Bowls’ with three well deserving organizations that address food self-sufficiency in our neighborhood,” Miller said.

“We are delighted to partner for the third year with The Peddie School, and we look forward to another sold-out community dinner. We hope this event extends the impact and reach of this annual fund-raiser,” Miller said.

The event has raised more than $55,000 over the past four years to help relieve hunger and support the Hightstown Cultural Arts Commission plan for public art and cultural programs like the public art mural on the RISE Greater Goods Thrift Store, Theater in the Park and Pianos in the Park, she said.

The venue has changed from year to year, starting out at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5700 in Hightstown, and then moved to the ballroom at the Hightstown Engine Co. No. 1 firehouse.

The “Empty Bowls” fundraiser has settled down at The Peddie School. A student at the co-educational boarding school suggested it to school officials, who agreed to serve as the host for the event.

The idea for “Empty Bowls” came up at an arts commission meeting, Miller said. She and Welch were aware of similar “empty bowl”  fundraisers. It is an international program that engages participating artists to create and donate handmade bowls in which a simple meal is served to a gathering of caring community members.

“Adam is a ceramic artist and we both loved the idea of the arts helping to relieve hunger,” Miller said.

The “Empty Bowls” fundraiser has grown since its beginning in 2016, when Welch made 200 stoneware bowls. This year, he is planning to create 300 handmade soup bowls, along with 100 bowls made by students at Hightstown High School and The Peddie School.

Participants will select a bowl and fill it with a hot meal from restaurants that include 12 Seasons, 4 Seasons Cafe & Deli, Americana Kitchen & Bar, Fernando’s Grille, Hightstown Diner, Mannino’s 4, Morgan’s Island Grill, Pompier Catering, Tacorito and Tavern on the Lake.

“We look forward to another successful evening filled with smiling faces of generous community members who found a delicious and artful way to give back,” Miller said.