The line started forming in Goshen at 4 p.m., an hour before the doors opened Saturday for the 16th annual Empty Bowl Project.
By 5, it stretched from the Goshen Farmers Market to Third Street and then south. Hundreds waited more than an hour to pick a handmade pottery bowl and eat a bowl of soup from it.
Goshen Clay Artists Guild organizes the annual event by making bowls and arranging donations of soup from members or local restaurants.
Professional potters from the area contribute bowls and students from Goshen College, Bethany Christian Schools and Huntington University did as well. ADEC clients contributed eight bowls they made. By the time they were all done, there were more than 1,000 bowls, said Julie Wilcox, one of this year’s organizers for the guild.
People come year after year to collect the bowls, she said.
As bowls are taken, volunteers put more out. Even people holding bowls eye them as well. “They’re waiting for the next one to come,” Wilcox said.
A total of 93 gallons of soup were prepared for the meal, which served 746 people, according to organizers. Dr. James Nelson Gingerich made dozens of loaves of bread. The event has taken place in February, but was moved back in hopes of nicer weather. Wilcox said she was thrilled with the lovely day for the event as people waited outside.
The event is “for the good of the community,” said Wilcox. Nearly $13,000 was taken in Saturday night and about $10,000 to $11,000 is usually donated after expenses, said Jessica Koscher of the guild. Funds go toward Interfaith Hospitality Network, an agency that houses homeless individuals and families in local churches since there isn’t a shelter in Goshen. Phil Keller, IHN executive director, said, “To say it’s significant is really an understatement.” The guild does the work of putting on the event and makes a donation which is half the amount of the big fundraiser IHN does every year. “It’s just a tremendous thing they do for us,” he said.