Glory Hole to host Empty Bowls fundraiser

The Glory Hole is hoping to raise more than ever at its annual “Empty Bowls” event next Sunday. Judging from the success of past events, the bar will be high.


Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk said they are hoping to raise $37,000 at the event, which usually nets around $28,000 to $35,000 and makes up about 10 percent of the shelter’s budget along with individual donations. Empty Bowls is the downtown soup kitchen’s biggest fundraiser each year.

Lovishchuk said the event’s big draw — take-home bowl made of ceramic or wood and crafted by local artists — are ready to be filled.

“Some of these are just amazing,” Lovishchuck gushed during an interview at the South Franklin Street shelter this week, showing off one made by an area artist, Kim Ney from Gustavus. “Seeing them all is really stunning.”

The Canvas Studio donates some of the bowls, as does the University of Alaska Southeast ceramics class students. Individual artists donate their work, including wooden bowls from Neil Slotkin and Don Gotchall. The Southeast Wood Turners also have donated.

“The variety and quality is impressive,” Lovishchuk said.

Attendees are given a bowl to take home as a reminder of those whose bowls go empty, including the homeless population in Juneau which is estimated around 500 by official counts. Lovishchuk is quick to point out that number is probably much lower than the real homeless population, since it’s not likely all are counted. She estimates Juneau’s homeless population to be closer to 1,000.

The Glory Hole provides around 53,000 meals each year to those in need, plus food boxes. It doled out 1,179 food boxes last year, as well as an additional 330 holiday food boxes. The shelter’s beds collectively were used about 12,000 times last year.

Lovishchuk says those numbers are up slightly from last year. One trend she’s noticed recently is the increase in single males around 18 to 25 years old coming in.

By attending the $30-a-ticket Empty Bowls event — which features a gourmet soup sampling from local restaurants and fresh bread from Wild Oven, a silent auction, dessert auction and live music at Centennial Hall — participants are helping raise money that will go to the Glory Hole’s general fund. The money goes to fund myriad projects and programs (the garden project, the wellness program, and outreach and housing assistance programs), plus transportation and clothing assistance and social services referral programs. Lovishchuk said they are also expanding their case management.

Donations, such as purchasing a ticket to Empty Bowls, are particularly helpful because they don’t have strings or conditions attached like grant money, Lovishchuk said. Grant monies are usually limited to one specific area and restricted to that use.

The Glory Hole is also hoping to raise more than usual this year in order to get a jump start with its new project with the Juneau Community Foundation: The Friends of the Glory Hole Fund. That fund is slated to be used as a “rainy day” fund and Lovishchuck is hoping to raise $100,000 in the next seven to nine years.

Empty Bowls has been the Glory Hole’s primary fundraiser for the past eight years. It’s an international grassroots movement that began out of North Carolina to help with hunger relief. Empty Bowls events are held all over the U.S. and the world. In Alaska, they are also held in Anchorage and Sitka.

Lovishchuk said it wouldn’t be possible without partnering with Juneau businesses, such as all the restaurants in town donating soup, and of course, local artists.

If you go:

When: Sunday, April 27
Time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Centennial Hall
Price: $30 per ticket
Tickets can be purchased in advance at Hearthside Books


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