Helping fight hunger; Empty Bowls fundraiser is Wednesday

NASHUA – The annual Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, still going strong after 22 years, is set for Wednesday at Nashua High School South.

Presented by the Nashua High School North and South chapters of the National Art Honor Society, this year’s event will take place from 6-8 p.m. in the Nashua South cafeteria, 36 Riverside St., with a snow date set for Feb. 23.

The spirit of the evening is to encourage participants to think about those with truly "empty bowls" while enjoying a simple bowl of soup, according to event organizer Robin Peringer, a Nashua art educator and adviser for the National Art Honor Society.

"I grew up in this community, and I grew up as a child (who) was very poor, and I knew what it was like being hungry," Peringer said at the 2015 event.

The fundraiser this year will be marked by a celebration of longtime Nashua Soup Kitchen Director Lisa Christie, who recently retired from the organization after 27 years at the helm.

Christie began as the director of the Nashua Soup Kitchen in 1989 and led it through client-based growth needs that now include serving 1,700 meals per week and helping more than 300 individuals and families.

For the 2017 Empty Bowls event, more than 700 clay bowls have been created by Nashua South students and staff, as well as by community members and artists from Greater Nashua.

"One completely ‘new’ thing for this year is that a handful of teachers from across the district got together for a few after-school workshops and made porcelain spoons for the event," Peringer said Friday.

"They are such sweet spoons; some are little bunnies that hang onto the side of the bowl by their paws. We have fish, kitties, spiral designs and so on," she said, crediting the creativity of Nashua teachers.

The night of the event, attendees arrive at Nashua South and choose a bowl from the many on display in the foyer, and carry it to the cafeteria to choose from soups provided by dozens of local restaurants. Upon leaving the event, the bowls will be cleaned and sent home with attendees.

The school jazz band will provide ambience for the evening, under the guidance of Tony Courounis.

The fundraiser includes a silent art auction with items donated by art students, local artists and Nashua School District employees. Checks and credit cards will be accepted for auction artwork.

All proceeds from ticket and auction sales will go directly to the Nashua South Kitchen. With each dollar donated to the shelter, 92 cents goes directly to the clients in need.

Participating restaurants include Alpine Grove, Bagel Alley, b.good, Chik-Fil-A, Chrysanthi’s, City Room Cafe, Common Man in Merrimack, Country Tavern, Cozy Tea Cart in Brookline, Crosby Bakery, Fairview Healthcare, Giorgio’s Milford, Great Harvest Bread Company, MT’s Local, North Star Cafe, Not Your Average Joe’s, Riverside Barbecue Company, Surf, T-Bones in Hudson, NexDine, The Foundry Restaurant in Manchester and Whole Foods.

The international grass-roots movement to feed the hungry began 25 years ago, launched by North Carolina-based nonprofit organization Imagine Render. More information is available at www.emptybowls.net.

Organizers encourage participants to buy tickets in advance, as the event can sell out. Tickets are $15, with children younger than 5 admitted free.

Tickets can be purchased at these locations:

? bit.ly/2gSCxSE.

? The Nashua Soup Kitchen website at www.nsks.org; choose "Annual Fundraisers."

? The main office of Nashua High School South during school hours.

? The Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, 2 Quincy St.

For more information, email Peringer at peringerr@nashua.edu.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-1246, tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_ TinaF.