Empty Bowls mean full tummies!

It’s so simple, it makes me giddy.

It’s so powerful, it makes me humble.

Empty bowls. They signify not enough to the person who’s struggling with life.

Empty bowls made by pottery artisans like Lisa Fischer-Jenssen of Ploughpenny Pottery are attractive vessels, perfect for gift giving. And a container of frozen soup made by a recognized chef like Charlene Nero of Bite Me Fabulous Food, perfect for filling a tummy. Suppose Charlene purchased her soup ingredients from nearby organic farmers, using free range turkeys and locally grown vegetables? Even better!

Now, let’s put it all together. Take the pottery bowl, add the container of soup. Affix a price tag of $20. The purchaser gets a fabulous bowl and a meal of soup. And the charity working to feed people who need to be fed gets the $20.

It’s so simple, it makes me giddy. So powerful, it’s humbling.

Wanda Collison has been organizing the Christmas Artisans Show for 11 years now. The hallways and public spaces of the Simcoe County Museum come alive with the creativity of 60 artists… woodworkers, weavers, jewellers, potters, quilters, sewers, wreath makers, and on and on. This show, held during the daytimes of November 21 and 22, allows all of us to select gifts that are locally made and support our local economy.

But Wanda is always looking for more. Three years ago she helped launch the Gingerbread House Competition, challenging community leaders and media to decorate a gingerbread house. The houses, 29 in all this year, are on display and the public can buy a ticket (or several) and vote on their favourite house. Ticket buyers ultimately win the houses. And the money goes to support a charity that feeds people who need help.

Now, in 2009 with the help of area artisans, Wanda is adding the Empty Bowls program to her Artisans Show. And potters have responded with tremendous enthusiasm. Over 130 bowls from 7 potters have been donated for the cause and Chef Nero is cooking up a soup storm in anticipation of lots of sales.

What great gifts… superb bowl, fabulous soup, and a full tummy for a person in need! Win! Win! Win! The potters wheels of Lisa Fischer-Jenssen, Irene Hilborn, Peter Michalski of Blind Alley Pottery, Mary Hastings of Now and Zen Pottery, Connie of Leishman Pottery, Gary Brierly Pottery, Dottie Potts, and Paul Johnson Pottery have all donated bowls to the cause.

Wanda’s generosity and creativity has extended itself to Christmas Cheer, the happy recipient of money raised in the Gingerbread House competition and now with the Empty Bowls program. If you’re a potter, you can still donate a bowl or two for this program. You can reach Wanda Collison at 705 528-0700 or wdcollison@sympatico.ca.

Faye Bubel, Events Coordinator with Christmas Cheer is bubbling with enthusiasm over this year’s Gingerbread Competition.

And Hank Thibideau, President of Christmas Cheer, expresses gratitude for the generosity of the community in the Empty Bowls program. “We think this is an incredible new initiative. We’re very grateful to all the local potters and the chef for creating this opportunity, AND to Wanda Collison for taking the initiative on this. This is an opportunity to really help us this year as we head into our biggest campaign ever.”

If you want to buy an Empty Bowl or vote on a Gingerbread House or visit all the artisan booths, you can do it next Saturday and Sunday, November 21, 22 at Simcoe County Museum, Hwy 26 in Midhurst. 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is $5. Community contribution? Priceless.

Thanks, Wanda. Thanks, Lisa. Thanks, Charlene!