MRHS Fundraiser Benefits Family Table Collaborative

by Jennifer Sexton-Riley

On Monday, March 7 Monomoy Regional High School will present Empty Bowls, Full Hearts, a fundraiser to benefit the Family Table Collaborative of Cape Cod. The event will bring the community together to enjoy a delicious soup meal while helping neighbors in need.

The Empty Bowls, Full Hearts fundraiser will take place in the MRHS cafeteria. There will be two seatings, at 5 and at 6 p.m. Individuals and families will enjoy a delicious homemade soup dinner, created by talented Family Table Collaborative chefs, in a charming ceramic bowl made by MRHS students, on placemats made by Harwich Elementary School and Chatham Elementary School students. Table centerpieces will be crafted by Monomoy Regional Middle School students. To accompany the soup, there will be Pain D'Avignon bread, Pelham on the Rise cookies and Dunkin' coffee. While you eat, enjoy concerts from both the MRMS and MRHS choirs and the MRHS jazz band, and participate in a silent auction of goods from partnered local businesses.

South Yarmouth based Family Table Collaborative (FTC), founded in 2020 by Director of Operations Jeni Wheeler and Director of Planning Harry Henry, was created as a rapid response program to address the immediate needs of families and seniors struggling with food security due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nutritional security on Cape Cod, however, is a full-time, year-round crisis. FTC continues to fulfill its mission to provide healthy, prepared meals to those who need them. In the nearly four years since it began, FTC has prepared and distributed more than 130,000 meals, soups and other food items for and into our community.

MRHS Career Education, Planning Coordinator and Internship Coordinator Cheri Armstrong said the inspiration for the high school’s partnership with FTC, which led to the schoolwide Empty Bowls, Full Hearts fundraiser, came about while she and her colleagues were developing the school’s Portrait of a Graduate concept in 2022. Portrait of a Graduate serves as a north star to drive transformation of traditional school models. Armstrong said creating the Portrait combines four goals: nurturing creative and critical thinkers, fostering communication and leadership, encouraging students to be engaged citizens, and nurturing independent and confident learners.

“So as we were reflecting on those goals,” Armstrong said, “I thought let’s take grade eight students and give them an opportunity to volunteer in the community and focus on developing their soft job skills in the community for any job they may have in the future. The soft skills include being on time, communication, performing to the best of one’s ability and being coachable. We thought volunteering with FTC would be a fabulous way to have students be involved in helping the community.” MRHS created Grade 8 Giving, a program for eighth graders to volunteer in the community, and soon formed a partnership with FTC. Each Thursday, Armstrong began to transport 10 students to FTC to volunteer from 9 a.m. to noon. The 160 eighth graders take turns, grouped by their surnames in alphabetical order, so everyone has the opportunity to experience volunteering at FTC.

“What has transpired is it is a multigenerational setting which is fabulous for the students,” Armstrong said. “They have become part of the fabric of our community in the sense that they are working with people of all skill levels and backgrounds. Students are forming community connections with FTC volunteers of all ages, and it has been extremely rewarding for them. The greatest part of the experience in terms of our students’ development has been the increase in their self esteem. Last week they packaged 765 meals for distribution. They are really enjoying that partnership.”

As career education and planning coordinator and internship coordinator, Armstrong’s role is to provide opportunities for career exploration and internships for fields that students are interested in pursuing. She also supports students in finding paid work or volunteer positions to gain practical experience, build a resume, and contribute to community service. Armstrong emphasized that a key reason for MRHS’s focus on fundraising for FTC is the fact that many students in the Monomoy Regional School District suffer from food insecurity and the effects of the housing crisis.

“This is what we want to focus on with our fundraising,” Armstrong said.

There’s no need to purchase tickets in advance, and nobody will be turned away from the door. Diners may choose from several different options: $15 for a ceramic bowl and soup meal. $10 for a soup meal only, $25 for a soup meal for a family (no ceramic bowl), $5 for diners ages 5 to 12 (soup meal only) or $10 for a ceramic soup bowl only. Can’t make it that night? Consider making a contribution. For more information visit