"The girls are having a lot of fun. They are proud to be part of this," said Troop leader Carol Cutler.
Boy Scout Troop #24, WFP volunteers, and members of the Elks stirred pots of hearty vegetable soup and vegetarian chili prepared by Skidmore Dining Services, as others set up dining/kitchen areas and 52 silent auction items within the space of the lodge.
"People donated so many quality handcrafted items this year; it's very heart warming," said WFP Vice-President Connie Towers as she draped a hand-stitched quilt over a rack.
Blown glass bowls from Gary Zack, an Adirondack chair crafted by Steve Countermine, and a jeweled rhea egg created by Shirley Jung showed the range of artist's skills and diversity of auction items.
"This event amplifies the spirit of the food pantry, which is neighbor helping neighbor, continued Towers. “Residents, businesses and organizations have stepped up to be part of this home-grown solution; working together to offer compassionate help to families, strengthening community, volunteerism and generational ties‚ and partnering to end hunger."
As the doors opened, precisely at 1 p.m., only 15 of the 300 tickets were available. The event was sold out in 15 minutes.
Guests chose a unique bowl, enjoyed a simple meal of soup or chili, bread and water, browsed the silent auction, and enjoyed local musicians John and Orion Kribs, Doug Moody and Arlin Greene.
"The community building aspect of this is what we have been working toward and it is just as important as raising funds. Empty bowls are creating full hearts," said Debi Zellan, WFP President. "Our volunteers are the most dedicated and hard-working group I've ever met and they are the backbone of all we do. The community members who have come here today to support us are volunteers by extension and we are enjoying the hugs. We are so pleased to provide this opportunity for neighbors to get together and reconnect while helping those in need."
Event organizer and WFP Board Member Dennis Towers addressed the crowded room, "The concept of Empty Bowls is quite simple: you choose a handcrafted bowl, enjoy a simple meal and take the bowl home with you. Each time you take the bowl out, you remember there are neighbors in our community who have empty bowls every week, and in some cases, every day. But I am going to ask you to dig a little deeper. A student took a piece of mud, and with their skill and the intent of nourishing minds and bodies, created the vessel you now hold. Take a minute and look around you, see the like-minded members of your community who purchased a bowl and brought that original concept to life. Each bowl allows Wilton Food Pantry to purchase 93 pounds of food through Regional Food Bank, and helps us provide nutrients to those in our community – making seniors in need a little stronger, children in need better students, workers in need more attentive, and perhaps giving our littlest ones a healthier start on life."
Towers continued, "So yes, when you take your bowl out, think of neighbors facing food insecurity, but also remember ... when you have sincere intent for positive impact, combined with active participation, powered by the will of the community ... any mud can be turned into a vessel of hope."
The sold out event raised $15,000, and is the largest, single source of funding for the all-volunteer food pantry.
Visit www.wiltonfoodpantry.com for more information.