Annual fundraiser at Green Valley High School to fill bowls and hearts

Several residents who are savvy at making soups plan to prepare them in bulk for the upcoming Empty Bowl Benefit Luncheon & Auction.

For one, Sonja Brouwers said she is making 10 gallons of tomato basil bisque for the annual event, scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 12 at Green Valley High School, 460 Arroyo Grande Blvd. The luncheon will raise funds for Las Vegas Catholic Worker, 500 W. Van Buren Ave., which offers a food program for economically disadvantaged residents.

“I won’t make it until that morning because I want it to be as fresh as possible,” said Brouwers, an 18-year Catholic Worker volunteer.

The luncheon is a collaboration between the Nevada Clay Guild; Mission Hills Pottery, 9480 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 160; Aardvark Clay & Supplies, 6230 Greyhound Ave., Suite E, which donates materials; and Green Valley High School. Brouwers said she has been involved with the event since it was created in 1999 by Donna Potter, a clay guild member and owner of Mission Hills Pottery.

“When it first started, we had just a few bowls that were donated by the Clay Guild and a small silent auction,” Brouwers said. “Over the years, it has just really grown, and those who do come usually like to come back every year.”

Between 500 and 600 people typically attend the event, which raised $25,670 last year, said Julia Occhiogrosso, founder of Las Vegas Catholic Worker. Various local groups have made about 1,500 bowls for this year’s event, she said, including Green Valley High School ceramics students, ceramic artists at Mission Hills Pottery and Nevada Clay Guild members.

“We had a bowl-a-thon in January, where Clay Guild members came to Mission Hills Pottery and made about 200 bowls, and throughout the year, they made them, as well,” Potter said. “It’s (the Empty Bowl) a perfect pairing for people who make art that can help out.”

Empty Bowl attendees pick a bowl and clean it on-site before eating lunch, which also includes bread. Participants can take the bowls home afterward to serve as a reminder of those who lack sufficient food, Occhiogrosso said.

Brouwers said the luncheon is “beautiful in its simplicity — the whole concept of the empty bowl and being hungry and being homeless; I think that’s the beauty of the event.”

Donated bowls, paintings and drawings are scheduled to be up for bid during the auction.

Aside from Brouwers’ tomato basil bisque, soup options are to include chili, chicken noodle, potato kale, corn chowder, lentil, minestrone, and white bean. Toppings and beverages will be available, as well. About six people are making the soups, Occhiogrosso said.

The event costs $15, which includes food and a bowl. Visit lvcw.org or nevadaclayguild.org.

— To reach Henderson View reporter Cassandra Keenan, email ckeenan@viewnews.com or call 702-383-0278. Find her on Twitter: @CassandraKNews.

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