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Harvest Bowls: When a tasty bowl of hot soup is much more than a tasty bowl of hot soup (6 photos)

Harvest Bowls event sees donated soup bowls, donated soup, donated bread going towards raising funds for Chalmers Community Service Centre

Nothing is more soothing for the tummy than a hot bowl of soup.

And year after year, there is an eager bunch who can’t wait to choose a new hand made bowl and fill it with the soup of their choice. 

The 12th annual Harvest Bowls event sold out again this year at Three Willows United Church in Guelph.

Each year, the fall event fills locally made clay bowls with hearty soups, raising over $9,000 annually for Chalmers Community Service Centre.  

“The idea is you grab a bowl of your choice. There are nine separate soup stations and you can choose as many soups as you like,” said Rhondda Lymburner, a member of Three Willows United Church who helps organize the event year after year.

“Three Willows United Church runs the event and other united churches help us too. I’ve been involved with this for a number of years. People just love to get together for this and it supports such a great cause,” Lymburner said. 

“And everyone is so generous from the potters and the restaurants too. They continue to come every year.”

Local potters donate bowls and restaurant and business owners donate soup and bread.  Guests are invited to purchase a $40 ticket and they can enjoy as many of the soups as they like and, they get to keep the bowl. 

It happens every year on the last Wednesday of October at Three Willows United Church.

“About eight restaurants have supported us with soup donations, and many potters, including those from the Guelph Potters Guild, have been very supportive,” Lymburner said.

“The soups, the breads and pottery, it’s all donated and the event is run by volunteers.”

Wayne Dawson, also with Three Willows United Church, is a regular volunteer at Harvest Bowls. 

“We print about 220 tickets and we pretty well sell out every year,” Dawson said. 

As people lined up to choose their bowl, it was clear that it wasn’t an easy choice to make.

“They are all so lovely, it’s so hard to choose every year,” said Jane Helm. “But I do have quite a collection now.”

Cheryl McLean, along with friends, Patsy Huether and Barbara Hagey have been coming to the event together for over eight years. 

“We have been friends since high school. We do this every year This is our event to get together,” McLean said. 

“This is very important to the community and we try to support it throughout the year as well.”

Chalmers Community Services Centre offers programs and services to support those in need and provides a warm and respectful place where guests can receive food, choose clothing and enjoy company and conversation. 

Services are free of charge to people who are unemployed, underemployed, between jobs or awaiting compensation.

There are two centres in operation. The first is located at Three Willows United Church and the main location is at 577 Willow Rd. in Guelph. 

“We offer a food pantry, free clothing and household items. It’s very welcoming. We want to be welcoming,” said Diana Sterenberg, administrator at the Chalmers Community Services Centre. 

Each month, the centre has over 490 visits from guests who come from Guelph and surrounding areas. 

Over 90 volunteers help run programs at the centre. 

Chalmers Community Services Centre has a mission to serve those in need without prejudice, welcoming all.

The food pantry provides each guest with three days’ worth of nutritious food they may visit the food pantry every other week. 

And the clothing & household goods area offers a selection of gently used clothing and household items, including bedding, towels and kitchen items.

Morning cafés are also held at both locations where guests can enjoy coffee, snacks and conversation. 

Staff members are available to offer local support services and referrals. 

Harvest Bowls is the main event which helps support Chalmers Community Services Centre.

With bowls in hand, guests were eager to get their fill of the many delicious soups available for testing.

“This is such a big event for us every year,” Sterenberg said. 

“All of this is by donation and we are so thankful to everyone and to the wonderfully dedicated volunteers who help organize this event every year.”

For more information, to volunteer or donate to Chalmers Community Services, visit