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Bowl-dly Fighting Hunger: Empty Bowls fund-raiser returns Thursday

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Master ceramic potter and instructor Vicky Smith and a legion of volunteers are the movers and shakers behind the 2014 Empty Bowls fund-raiser. The project helps feed hungry people in the greater Wilmington area and more than 1,500 hand-crafted bowls—some by local renowned sculptor Hiroshi Sueyoshi—will grace the First Baptist Activity Center on Independence Boulevard. The event takes place March 14th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and guests will be served iced tea, bread, cookies, and a delicious soup from area restaurants before choosing their own particular bowls, all for a ticket price of $20.

Smith, a ceramic instructor at UNCW and well-known for her environmentally friendly art, is leading students in the crafting of hundreds of bowls. She teaches a class, Ceramics in the Cultures of the World, and has exhibited her colorful work in national juried shows all over North Carolina. She and her husband live in a geodesic dome overlooking the water, and she says her pottery is greatly influenced by watching the marine life at play, and the reflections of sunrise and sunset.

“Making so many bowls is a challenge, but we have 90 members in the Coastal Carolina Clay Guild, Fat Cat Pottery, and Orange Street Pottery participating (plus Cape Fear Community College and local high schools),” Smith said. “Also Panco Ceramics Studio (led by Sueyoshi) at the Cameron Art Museum holds open studio days for potters to work. The potters consider their hard work a personal contribution in the fight against hunger. People like giving back to the community, especially because it’s a great cause and it’s local.”

Empty Bowls dates back to 1990, when Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom had high-school students in a Michigan community make ceramic bowls for a fund-raising meal of soup and bread. Contributing guests kept the empty bowls to remind themselves of those who are hungry. The Imagine/RENDER Group, a 501c3 organization, was developed to promote the Empty Bowls project. The objectives: to increase an awareness of hunger; to raise as much money as possible to feed the world’s hungry people; and to advocate for arts education, and finding new solutions to old problems.

Hand made bowls

FIRE IT UP: Locally made bowls fill the kiln, all of which ticket-holders to Empty Bowls can take home and use. Photo by Vicky Smith.

Following these guidelines, Jane Raddick of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard (MHC) said, “Empty Bowls raised more than $40,000 in 2012. Yet more people are in need than ever before; MHC has served a record-breaking number of clients since we moved the facility this past September.”

A recipient of Wilmington’s Empty Bowls fundraiser, MHC gave more than 593,000 pounds of food to those in need last year. Of that number, 25 percent were children, 25 percent were seniors, and 5 percent were veterans.

Good Shepherd Center (GSC), another Empty Bowls recipient, serves hot meals to 100 men, women, and children at breakfast, 150 at lunch and 75 for supper—a total of about 85,000 meals a year.

Volunteers from these two groups, plus Smith, local celebrities, and a large group of folks, including Anne Stekatee of Port Land Grille, will help collect and serve the bread, iced tea, cookies, and signature soups from more than two dozen eateries, including Great Harvest Bread, Sugar Island, and Chic-fil-A, among others. Cape Fear Community College culinary school students will make soup plus help out on the day of the event. The Country Club of Landfall volunteers called “Today’s the Day” will both deliver their own soup and help pick up soup from other restaurants.

A promo table will be provided so eateries can display recipes, menus, coupons, etc., and a power-point presentation will talk about the need for Empty Bowls fund-raisers. It will pay tribute to those individuals and corporations willing to give sponsorship in the Wilmington area, as well.

“During our last Empty Bowls event, sponsorship accounted for more than 25 percent of the funds raised,” Stekatee said. Interested parties can call Stekatee at 910-262-4920.

Empty Bowl tickets may be purchased at the door of the First Baptist Activity Center on the day of the event. Tickets may also be bought at Temptations, GSC, Grace Methodist, New Elements, Jester’s Java, Blue Moon, and Spectrum Art Gallery.


Empty Bowls

Fund-raiser to fight hunger
March 14th, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
First Baptist Activity Center
1939 Independence Blvd. • 910-622-1211

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