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No soup this year, but ‘Empty Bowls’ fundraiser a success for CCAC, food pantry

No soup this year, but ‘Empty Bowls’ fundraiser a success for CCAC, food pantry
The Charles City Arts Center’s Empty Bowls fundraiser was held online this year. (Photo submitted.)
By James Grob,

The only thing people missed out on was the soup.

But it is called “Empty Bowls,” after all.

The annual fundraiser at the Charles City Arts Center was a little different this year — and more true to its name — as the scheduled date for Empty Bowls arrived at just about the same time all the local COVID-19 precautions.

So the Empty Bowls Soup Dinner adapted and moved online. As always, local and regional potters donated bowls, but CCAC volunteers did not fill them with delicious homemade soup this year.

The CCAC already had more than 100 donated bowls, and although selling them online meant no packed room of people enjoying soup and conversation, it also meant that the group could still raise much-needed funds for the CCAC as well as Messiah’s Food Pantry.

The online event went over so well that CCAC Director Emily Kiewel said that the center was also setting up an online Galleria Shop and held a Facebook Live streaming reception on Friday. Those who wished to attend virtually can just go to the CCAC Facebook page and click the link. Art has been pulled out of local private collections for the display.

Starting this week, the CCAC is now open by appointment only, and patrons will be required to wear masks. Call 228-6284 to make an appointment.

The April art exhibit — which was the annual Charles City High School Art Show — was also presented online by CCHS art teachers Tia McInroy and Brian Bohlen. A link to that exhibit is available at the CCAC website.

“Being a non-profit art center means we have to get creative for sources of revenue,” Kiewel said. “We raised over $1,600, which is an amazing amount for us. I was so pleased and proud of our community.”

For Empty Bowls, Kiewel said she spent two weeks taking pictures, measuring bowls and uploading them to the CCAC’s new online shop. There are still a few bowls available at $15 per bowl. They can be found and purchased online at

Kiewel called the fundraiser an “amazing success.” She said most of the bowls sold out in the first three hours of the sale, and continued to sell for the next two days. To this point, $820 will go to Messiah’s Food Pantry and another $820 has gone into the CCAC’s operating account.

“It’s amazing what one person and $15 can do,” Kiewel said. “Thank you, Charles City.”

The CCAC closed its doors on March 17 and will stay closed until CCAC board members feel it is safe to allow the public in again — but plenty of services are currently available on the CCAC website, with more to come in the future.