CHESTER, Vt. – Volunteers carried stacks of chairs through the crowded American Legion Hall in Chester in an attempt to accommodate the large number of people who had come out to support the annual Empty Bowl fundraiser for the Chester-Andover Family Center (CAFC) on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. Friends and neighbors gathered, chatting and catching up. Entertainment was provided by folk singer Vinnie DiBernardo, who sang and played guitar.
A non-profit, charitable organization dependent on donations, thrift store sales, and fundraising events like the Empty Bowl Dinner, CAFC provides Chester and Andover residents with three vital services: the Thrift Shop, Food Shelf, and Financial Assistance. The organization’s mission is to “make a difference in our community by providing resources for financial assistance, supplemental, nutritional food, affordable clothing, and household goods.”
A long table was set up at the entrance to the Legion Hall covered with colorful, hand-painted, ceramic bowls. Each guest was instructed to choose a bowl, then head into the Hall where they were served salad, desserts, and a variety of signature, homemade soups from local restaurants and chefs. Choices included area favorites like New England Clam Chowder from The Killarney in Ludlow, Cock-A-Leekie soup from Maclaomainn’s Scottish Pub, and African Peanut Soup created by Smokin’ Bowls chef Sarah DiBernardo.
Highlights of the event were a silent auction and raffle. Additionally, this was the first year that CAFC presented a fashion show, featuring several mother-daughter teams, teens in prom gowns, and other residents, including board member and Thrift Shop Manager Nancy Dourney, modeling rain jackets, robes, coats, dresses, and more. Food Shelf
Manager and board member David Carey made for a cheerful emcee. All clothing and accessories were either second hand pieces from the Thrift Shop, or new items graciously donated by The Vermont Country Store.
Saturday’s event had the highest attendance of any year, and raised over $5,000 to support the CAFC Financial Assistance and Food Shelf Programs. Board member Nena Nanfeldt said, “$5,000 provides about 60 households with two months of supplemental food.”
Planning for next year’s event will begin in the spring of 2023.