The staff of the Glory Hole would like to avoid having empty bowls in the hands of hungry patrons for the rest of this year. So the downtown shelter is organizing the first Empty Bowls fundraiser in Juneau, following the example of hundreds of homeless shelters around the country.
Local potters have donated more than 500 bowls to the Glory Hole. From 5 to 7 p.m. this Saturday at Centennial Hall, Juneau residents can pay $25 to take home a bowl and fill their bellies with soup from local restaurants.
"The whole idea of having it done in a beautiful bowl is that when you take the bowl home ... every time you see your bowl it can be a constant reminder of hunger in the world," said Jetta Whittaker, executive director of the Glory Hole.
Whittaker began organizing the fundraiser last fall when Ted Heslin, then an employee of Rainbow Foods, approached her with the idea. He had organized several Empty Bowls events in other cities and recognized the opportunity for the Glory Hole to secure some extra funding.
Whittaker began contacting potters, while Heslin solicited local restaurants for food donations. Both groups responded positively. Local potters, professional and amateur alike, will have made 500 bowls by Saturday for the event. Most local restaurants and cafeterias agreed to provide soup, bread and brownies for the meal.
With the capacity to provide soup and bowls to about 500 people, and most expenses donated or in-kind, Whittaker hopes the Glory Hole will net $10,000 from the event. The money will go to the shelter's general operations.
"So we'll never have to shut down again," said Whittaker.
The shelter closed during its mid-day hours for about three weeks last October because of a shortage in funding. As word spread about the budget crisis at the shelter, private donations came flooding in.
"Realistically, we don't expect to have quite so many personal donations this year," Whittaker said.
Elementary, high school and college art classes have donated bowls for the event, as well as amateur and professional potters.
Juneau Ceramic Arts, a paint-your-own-pottery store in the Mendenhall Mall, allowed several scouting and church groups to use the store's materials and services for free to make bowls.
"We donated the bowls themselves and the tools to clean them up and the paints and the glazes and the firing time," said Mary Leslie, a partner in the store with Mike Thomas.
The store donated more than 60 bowls to the cause. Robin McLean, a potter in Fairbanks, donated a bowl she displayed at the Juneau Public Market last year, and other Southeast Alaska artists have sent up their work.
"They're just some beautiful, beautiful works," Whittaker said. "Some of them are worth far more than $25."
A total of about 100 people will have volunteered to make the event possible, Whittaker said. This includes musicians who will entertain, church youth groups who will bus tables, and Rotary club members who will act as "celebrity servers."
For more information or to volunteer, call Whittaker at 586-4159.
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org