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Teamwork makes the dream work

How the Empty Bowls Project really works


What a privilege it is to be a part of the Empty Bowls Project! The Empty Bowls Project raises more than 60% of Helping Hands annual budget and is the largest fundraiser of the year for Helping Hands Food Pantry.

While a rather small group of people plan the even, it's the collection of volunteers that make it happen! The Empty Bowls Project easily draws volunteers who wish to be a part of a family-fun experience and give their time and energy in support of Helping Hands. With more than 100 adults and youth rallying together on the day of the event, there is an energetic, happy group of teams that comes together to create a well-oiled machine.


To kick-off the fundraiser, the foremost mission is seeking sponsors. Did you know that there are almost 200 sponsors each year? And how grateful we are for them! Our sponsors give generously to the cause and feel a deep connection to the project. Without sponsors' financial assistance, it would not be possible to have a successful Empty Bowls Project!

As sponsor money thankfully arrives, a team is out and about in the summer months collecting around 1,500 bowls from 18 or more area potters who give their time and creativity to provide beautiful handmade bowls (and as an added perk, picking up bowls from potters allows volunteers to peek inside the boxes and see the textures, glazes and shapes of the extraordinary bowls). The 50+ boxes of bowls are categorized and ultimately delivered to the even location where they are smartly arranged to showcase the potters' talents.

The night before the event, a mighty team collects thirty 5-gallon food grade buckets of soup from Dripping Springs and Austin area restaurants... sometimes in the wee hours of the morning as chefs are closing their doors. As a big thank you for their donation, restaurants receive free advertising, a handsome box of scrumptious, personalized cookies made by Well Yeah Cakes and a commemorative gift as a special reminder that Dripping Springs Helping Hands appreciates our chefs!

You may be wondering... how are all those soups kept refrigerated overnight? The Barbershop Bar on Mercer Street graciously allows us to store the soups overnight in their walk-in cooler. In the early morning on the day of the event, the hefty soup buckets are transported in a trailer by another team... where, lots of heavy lifting!

When the soups arrive at the venue, the cook team organizes them by type and fires up the propane grills for re-heating. Once warm, out they go to be served to our patrons who often arrive early to select their favorite bowl(s), sometimes spending half an hour happily going from table to table while mingling with friends. And sometimes selecting as many as 10 bowls to have as holiday gifts! After making their choice(s), off they go to have their bowls pre-washed by a team of Dripping Springs - Wimberley Girl Scouts armed with properly sanitized soap and water.

By now, Broadway Bank has collected 3,000+ cookies made by friends of Helping Hands that answers the patrons' "sweet tooth" call after finishing their soup. In addition, a truck full of a variety of breads and pastries donated by local bakers have been unloaded and the kitchen team puts their hand to work slicing and arranging for a lovely presentation. Now the show is about ready to begin! But wait... there is sweet tea from Chicken Express and a variety of beer, wine and cocktails provided by local vendors! The dining tables look lovely with decor from The Flower Girl, Kari Shelton and lovely linens donated by Premiere Events. We know it's about time to open the doors when the musicians tune their instruments to entertain our patrons with soothing, live music.

While Girl Scouts serve cookies and breads to patrons, a civic group works diligently behind the scenes to scrape and wash dozens of big empty stew pots (not the most sought-after job, for sure, but necessary!). And then the piece de resistance, the patrons take their chosen bowl(s) home with them!

It is magical to walk the event room and appreciate the liveliness of the community that has come together to support Helping Hands. So many smiles, so much laughter and volunteers high-fiving each other!

At the end of the day, when the floors are swept and trash is hauled out, we realize that the more teams of volunteers we include, the more joyful and stronger the feeling of community really is. Because at the end of the day, it's all for the benefit of our neighbors in need.


You can donate by mailing a check to Helping Hands at:


P.O. Box 804

Dripping Springs, Texas 78620

It's easier than ever to donate online. Just click the button below.

We are happy to take your donation over the phone.

Call us at

(512) 820-0476

To donate by email or for more information about Helping Hands​ click the button below.

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