Empty Bowls Benefit is set for Friday, November 16
The Empty Bowls Benefit is scheduled for Friday, November 16 from 4-7 p.m. at Widmyer Elementary. Local organizations and volunteers began the event to bring attention to homelessness and hunger during National Homeless Week.
Empty Bowls Benefit guests will receive a bowl of homemade soup, bread and a drink for a donation in the simulated "soup kitchen" experience. They will also get to take home their small, handmade pottery bowl to remind them of the
hungry, homeless people
found in cities, towns and rural areas.
Local restaurants are donating soup and supplies. Well-known residents will be "celebrity" servers at the event. A silent auction of items donated by local artisans is also scheduled. Collection boxes for non-perishable food items and used cell phones will be on site. Cash donations are also encouraged.
The food drive will benefit local food pantries and the Shenandoah Women's Center. Used cell phones will be refurbished by the Shenandoah Women's Center and given to domestic violence victims so they can call 911 in an emergency, said Starting Points advisory committee member Rose Jackson, who is also the local Shenandoah Women's Center advocate.
Proceeds from the Empty Bowls event will benefit the Starting Points Meal Time Community Kitchen and the Morgan County unit of the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle. The Community Kitchen serves over 325 meals each week and the Boys & Girls Club provides snacks to more than 75 members each day.
Half of the proceeds from the Empty Bowls Benefit will help to offset the cost of snacks at the Boys & Girls Club, said Audrey Morris, executive director of Morgan County Starting Points, the agency that organized the benefit.
Many volunteers made bowls
Volunteers were enlisted to help make more than 200 handmade bowls for the Empty Bowls Benefit. Area potters and artists Veronica Wilson, Gordon MacLeod, Lynn Lavin, Joyce Morningstar, Lee Barron, Crawford Horne, Leslie Betz and Sandy Kaye crafted bowls for the event. Wilson and MacLeod are with Frog Valley Artisans.
Pottery-making volunteers included groups from the Berkeley Springs center of the Senior Life Services of Morgan County, art classes from Berkeley Springs High School and other area youth and adults. Wilson fired and glazed the bowls.
Wilson said she will continue making the pottery bowls once a month with the senior center and also with the Boys & Girls Club to have a stock of bowls for next year's Empty Bowls Benefit.
Empty Bowls is a nationwide program that potters have
been involved in during National Homeless Week, said Wilson. She has participated in Empty Bowls events in other places that she has lived in previously.
Morris became aware of the Empty Bowls program while at a conference. She and Jackson decided to hold a local event as part of the annual National Night Out event, which is sponsored by Starting Points. Wilson was asked to oversee the bowl-making.
Homeless & hunger
Morris noted that we had homeless people living in the area. Many more people were eating at the Starting Points Meal Time Community Kitchen, she said.
The total number of meals served in the Community Kitchen last year was 6,200, said Morris. By the end of August this year, the number of meals served was already at 6,900, she said. Some 50% of county children also qualify for free and reduced meals at school, said Morris.
Night Out event follows
A National Night Out ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. outside of Widmyer Elementary after the Empty Bowls Benefit. A discussion of hunger and homelessness statistics and experiences will raise awareness of what it feels like to be on the street homeless and hungry. Some event organizers and community members plan to spend the night outside in cardboard boxes.
The community is welcome to participate in the Empty Bowls Benefit and the National Night Out event. If planning to join them for the sleep-out, be sure to dress warmly and take blankets or a sleeping bag, said Morris.
For more information about the Empty Bowls Benefit and the suggested donation fee, or the National Night Out event, call Morris at Starting Points at 258-5600.