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It’s not often you can spend under $20 and get a thoughtful gift, especially one that keeps on giving.

But that’s the case when you attend Perkins Center for the Arts’ 8th annual Empty Bowls Project, a holiday event that combines gift-giving with great food in a festive atmosphere.

And these gifts don’t give just one, not just twice but three times.

The Saturday, Dec. 1 event from noon to 3 p.m. will be held at the center, 30 Irvin Ave.

Led by Paul Serena, Perkins’ pottery studio manager, artists have created more than 650 handcrafted bowls specifically for the Empty Bowls Project.

Guests who purchase a bowl for themselves or as a holiday gift receive a unique and useful vessel to bring home.

The bowl is also their passport to a tasting event featuring soup and other seasonal fare from at least 11 area restaurants.

And the proceeds from bowls sales will be divided evenly between the Food Bank of South Jersey and Perkins’ arts scholarship fund.

“Perkins’ Empty Bowls is a tremendous community event that supports both organizations’ missions,” said Kahra Buss, Perkins’ executive director, in announcing the event. “Perkins mission, ‘to provide authentic arts experiences that inspire’ is lived through this event.

“Together,’’ she said, “we feed bodies, minds and souls.”

The first seven years of Empty Bowls at Perkins raised more than $50,000, Buss said.

“We are always willing to do whatever we can to help such a great cause,’’ Murray said of his first time with Empty Bowls. “Empty Bowls is the perfect example of what this country needs more of, a helping hand to those who need it most.”

Square Meal of Oaklyn is excited to be back at the event, says co-owner Jackie Walther.

“We support Empty Bowls for the opportunity to give back and be a part of the greater community and connect with the awesome people who come to the event,’’ says Walther, whose café on Clinton Avenue offers fresh seasonal fare to eat in or take out. “The bowls make awesome Christmas presents, and each one is so special! I absolutely love the event.’’

Other participating restaurants include: Abandoned Luncheonette, Moorestown; El Sitio Grill & Café, Collingswood; Espressit Coffee Shop, Westmont; The Kibitz Room, Cherry Hill; Legacy Diner, Audubon; The Pop Shop, Collingswood; Short Hills Deli, Cherry Hill; Tortilla Press, Collingswood; Tres Yan & Wu, Mount Laurel.

The event is free; to participate in the tasting, guests are asked to spend a minimum of $15.

Perkins’ Empty Bowls event is part of an international program. The concept is to involve local artists to make and donate handcrafted bowls and offer a simple meal in an effort to fight hunger across the globe.

For more information, volunteer opportunities, parking information and more, visit the website at

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