Jamie St. Clair, a McKinney resident, has been participating in an Easter ministry at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in McKinney for 16 years. During her time volunteering for this free meal program, she was introduced to a program called Empty Bowls, a program that raises funds to provide food to impoverished people.

St. Peter’s creating a food pantry for low income residents planted the seed for her to start up an Empty Bowls McKinney program.

Since then, she’s been the organizer of Empty Bowls McKinney, an event that raises money for poverty-stricken residents in the city.

From 5:30-7:30 p.m. on April 14 at McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., attendees will sample soups from popular local restaurants and receive a souvenir bowl made by local artists. There will also be a silent auction to raise additional money for C

Each year, restaurants in the city provide soups that attendees can buy and, in exchange, each attendee gets an empty bowl made by a local artist to remind them about the dire straits many people experience on a daily basis.

There is also a silent auction of many of the bowls created by professional artists to benifit Community Lifeline Center, an organization that helps residents with short term crisis, this event holds a deeper meaning.

“We are keeping our auction true to the art,” St. Clair said. “It has to be a bowl. It doesn’t have to be a functional bowl, but it has to be a bowl. I set it at high, by-it-now prices. I try to honor these artists by encouraging people to value their work.”

In the beginning, she wasn’t as plugged into the arts community as she is now. So, it took a lot of networking to get the participation she got in 2012.

“I went to arts in bloom and started emailing every potter I could find,” St. Clair said.

She started in 2012 with five artists and a few restaurants that wanted to make a difference. That year, she was only able to collect 83 bowls from local artists.

This year, she will have 700 bowls because of the help of three studios: McKinney Art Studio, Art House and SPARC (St. Peter’s Artist Run Community). She also received the help of four area high schools and individual artists.

The first year, she raised about $4,500 and only around 100 people attended. This year, she expects about 700 people to attend and plans to raise much more than last year, which was $26,000.

For her, this event is about more than just raising money.

For her, it’s about not being disillusioned by the lifestyle of many McKinney residents. It’s about not ignoring the residents that are often overshadowed by the upper middle class majority.

“Everybody thinks McKinney is an affluent society, and it is, but there are lots of people in McKinney that are hungry,” St. Clair said. “(CLL) needs people like us to be able to do what they do.”

Tickets for the event are $25. Attendees can also purchase tickets to be a part of the Collector’s Club for the first time for $75. With this ticket, guests get to enter the building at 5 p.m. and have first pick on a bowl of their choice. They also receive a commemorative pin made by acclaimed local artists.