The Newark Senior Center’s annual Empty Bowls event once again drew a crowd Sunday night.

A couple hundred people packed into the senior center’s dining room to dine on soup, catch up with friends and raise money for a good cause.

“This is our lucky 13th year, can you believe it?” Carla Grygiel, executive director of the senior center, told the crowd. “And some of you have been here for every year.”

Attendees enjoyed a bowl – or several bowls – of soup donated by 11 restaurants and individuals. Many of the guests came with a group of friends and brought their own appetizers and wine to make the night even more enjoyable. The soup was served by volunteers from several local groups.

Each attendee also went home with a handcrafted bowl or other piece of pottery donated by local artisans, the Absalom Jones Community Center, the University of Delaware Ceramics Club and Cecil College.

The proceeds will benefit the senior center’s Meals on Wheels program, which last year delivered 43,000 meals to seniors in the Newark area, helping them “age in place” rather than need to move into assisted living or nursing home facilities.

Since its inception, the event has raised more than $110,000.

Grygiel said fundraisers like Empty Bowls help offset the cost of the meals, which are provided regardless of the recipient’s ability to pay. Seniors pay an average of $1.26 per meal, while the cost to the senior center is closer to $8 when other program expenses are factored in.

Nearly 160 volunteers contribute more than 300 hours each month delivering the meals.

“Our dedicated volunteers provide a daily visit, a smile and some kind words to brighten the day of our clients,” Grygiel said. “This check-in provides peace of mind to clients and their families.”

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