Fairbanks Community Foodbank hosts 25th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser

Erin McGroarty / Sun Star

Smiling customers left the Fairbanks Community Food bank Saturday morning with more bowls and less money after the 25th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser event.

This yearly event, started in 1991 by Fairbanks Potters Guild director Stan Zielinski, is a sale of ceramic bowls made by local artists to help support the local food bank. The event was projected to raise over $20,000 this year, according to CEO Anne Weaver.

Artists and potters guilds from around the Fairbanks area, including the UAF Student Ceramic Arts Guild, donated hundreds of bowls to the fundraiser this year. All of the proceeds will go directly to food bank.

It’s really cool to see how much money is going to the food bank based on what I made,” said Samantha Bartlett, an event volunteer and part-time ceramics student at UAF.

This was Bartlett’s first year volunteering for the event. She said she will definitely be returning next year

UAF ceramics students and members of SCAG have been working over the past few months creating bowls for this event. According to Weaver, UAF donated over half the bowls up for sale this year.

These bowls were packed up and driven to the food bank by UAF student volunteers Friday afternoon.

Lines of tables packed with colorful bowls filled the food bank warehouse while community members sipped coffee and perused the sale.

“This is my first time at the event and I think it’s fantastic,” Stephen Rice, food bank warehouse manager, said. “It’s great to see the community coming together for this effort. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

The event also included a silent auction held in a separate room during the sale.  Community members placed bids on some of the more intricately-designed ceramic vessels with higher prices.

“It’s absolutely amazing to see so many potters come together and be willing to work this hard and give so much back to the community and to see the community be so excited as well,” Weaver said.

According to Weaver, who has been working with the food bank for 26 years, the summer months are a lower-income time for the food bank. This sale is one of the biggest events that helps carry the food bank through those months, Weaver said.

“Over the years, this even has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for us,” Weaver said, “UAF has been so instrumental in that and we are so grateful.”

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