The Open Door  
Julie LaFontaine, President and CEO  
28 Emerson Ave.,  
Gloucester, MA 01930  

Media Contact: Kelsey Richards 
Phone: 978-283-6776 x 226 

Friday, May 5, 2023

Back Together Again: Hundreds Attend The Open Door

Empty Bowl Fundraiser   

Ahlena Bellerille, age 6, of Gloucester gets her face painted at Empty Bowl Marketplace.  
(Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 

GLOUCESTER— A beloved Cape Ann community event returned Thursday at Cruiseport Gloucester, bringing more than 950 old friends together to raise funds for summer hunger-relief programs at The Open Door.  

The Open Door’s Empty Bowl Marketplace reimagined the nonprofit’s flagship Empty Bowl fundraiser as an indoor street-fair themed event, where attendees chose a hand-painted bowl to take home, took soup to-go, got their faces painted, listened to music, got their picture taken at a “photo booth,” and more.  

The bowl goes home as a reminder: somewhere, someone’s bowl is empty. 

“Since the first Empty Bowl on Cape Ann was held in 2001, the premise of the event ‘somewhere, someone’s bowl is empty,’ has struck a resounding chord in hearts across the community. This year’s market-style evening embodied so many of the things that make Cape Ann a great place to live, melding community together with art, food and a good cause,” President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “We live in a community where goodwill abounds, and we’re so grateful to everyone who helps make the magic of an event like the Empty Bowl Marketplace happen.” 

Empty Bowl Marketplace, and the ongoing online auction held in tandem with the event, raise funds each year for programs of The Open Door that keep local children fed over summer break including Summer Meals for Kids, Mobile Market, and Food Pantry programs.  

“It’s great to see the community come out to support The Open Door,” said Valerie Johnson, of Manchester-by-the-Sea, who attended Empty Bowl Marketplace on Thursday. Johnson and her husband Fred have volunteered at The Open Door for five years. “We are so lucky, when there are so many people that need help.” 

In 2022, The Open Door helped stabilize the lives and health of 8,486 people from 4,872 households through the distribution of 1.78 million pounds of food. 

The nonprofit’s Summer Meals Kids program distributed 16,000 meals to local children over summer break last year, and its Mobile Market distributed135,000 pounds of food.  

Those unable to attend the event can still place a bid and view the online auction at The auction will remain live through Sunday, May 14. 

To learn about additional giving opportunities at The Open Door, visit

GLOUCESTER— Thousands of shoppers donated hand-picked, shelf-stable goods at The Open Door Thanksgiving Food Drive on Saturday, collectively giving 12,194 pounds of food. 

“Our community always shines when given an opportunity to help its neighbors, and that was certainly true this weekend,” President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “With local need increasing, feeding local people is a big job, but together, we can get it done. Every little bit makes a difference for a family or senior struggling during the holidays.” 

Six local grocery stores served as collection sites for Saturday’s Thanksgiving Food Drive, including Market Basket at 101 Gloucester Crossing Road, Gloucester MA; Stop & Shop at 6 Thatcher Road, Gloucester MA; Shaw’s at 127 Eastern Avenue, Gloucester MA; Shaw’s at 146 High Street, Ipswich MA; Crosby’s Marketplace at 3 Summer Street, Manchester-by-the-Sea MA; and Market Basket at 231 Newburyport Turnpike, Rowley MA. 

Additional donations will continue to arrive at The Open Door over the next few weeks from businesses, churches, schools, and other groups who held individual food drives to benefit The Open Door as well. 

For the first time, Second Glance also held a clothing drive in conjunction with the food drive. No appointments were necessary on Saturday only at the store, where donations and sales raise revenue to support hunger-relief programs of The Open Door.  

Already in 2023, The Open Door has seen more than a 28% increase in visits to its food pantries over 2022. The nonprofit’s kitchen also prepares approximately 3,000 meals each week. 

Volunteers Distribute Hundreds of Turkeys  

An army of volunteers and staff distributed Thanksgiving Baskets on Saturday to a steady stream of people at The Open Door’s 28 Emerson Avenue facility. Each basket included a turkey and all the fixings, at no cost, for local people to make their Thanksgiving meals at home and carry on their family traditions this year. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan Holiday Basket options were also available.  

“Our operations team working with volunteers provides the magic that turns community donations into a festive meal basket for Thanksgiving,” said Director of Operations Jen Perry.  

Hundreds more Holiday Baskets will continue to be distributed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday through The Open Door, by appointment. Holiday Baskets are still available and anyone who needs a little extra help can sign-up to pick theirs up at People can also sign-up now for a Holiday Basket for the December holidays.  

The Open Door is prepared to provide 1,400 Holiday Baskets by close of business on Wednesday, Nov.22. 

Members of the community who wish to make a monetary donation to help feed local people through the holidays and beyond can do so at  

In addition to The Open Door’s robust Holiday Basket program, providing local people with a turkey and all the trimmings to make special meals at home, the nonprofit also opens its kitchen each year to the American Legion on Thanksgiving Day. The American Legion will prepare and distribute meals to-go on Thanksgiving Day for anyone who would like a prepared meal for the holiday.

About The Open Door  

The mission of The Open Door is to alleviate the impact of hunger in our community. We use practical strategies to connect people to good food, to advocate on behalf of those in need, and to engage others in the work of building food security. 

Founded in 1978, The Open Door is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt non profit and community food resource center for low-income residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Boxford, Rowley, Topsfield, and Wenham. In 2022, The Open Door helped stabilize the lives and health of 8,486 people from 4,872 households through the distribution of 1.78 million pounds of food. 

For more information, visit 


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