Newark Senior Center hosted a socially distanced, to-go version of its popular Empty Bowls fundraiser on Sunday, drawing more than 200 people and raising approximately $15,000 for Meals on Wheels.

The “walk-through” event allowed attendees to pick out a handcrafted piece of pottery in the lobby and then head into the dining room to pick up their soup, which was packaged in to-go containers. Guests had plenty of room to spread out, and attendance was spaced out over a span of two hours.

For $25, attendees were able to choose three pints of soup to go from among the soups donated by Blue Crab Grill, Courtyard Marriott, Two Stones Pub, Timothy’s, Deer Park Tavern, the Food Bank of Delaware’s culinary school, Olive Tree Cafe, Full Circle Food and the senior center’s own “Chef Joey,” as well as a few home chefs. Attendees who wanted a higher quantity could pay $50 for three quarts of soup.

The event had a much different feel than usual, when guests typically gather around large tables to socialize with friends and neighbors and enjoy unlimited bowls of soup served by volunteers from local organizations.

Carla Grygiel, executive director of the senior center, said that despite the pandemic-related changes, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and feel safe. She noted that while the senior center has been open in a limited capacity and held an outdoor concert in the fall, this was the first large event the center has hosted since last year’s Empty Bowls.

“It’s an amazing turnout, really,” Grygiel said. “It’s been really terrific.”

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