Filling stomachs

Friday, November 12, 2010

I knew I wanted to write this week's column about the Empty Bowls Project. I just couldn't figure out how to start it.

I distracted myself with a handful of Skittles. I munched on some chips. I took advantage of some cut-up celery. And I realized how lucky I am.

The people the charity helps can barely acquire food for a meal, much less distraction. The Empty Bowls Project invites people to make clay bowls each year -- forming, decorating, glazing and then giving away the one-of-a-kind bowls as souvenirs at a banquet of soup and bread. The money raised stays with local charities that feed the less-fortunate families in the region.

Artists often volunteer their talents during the bowl-making portion, resulting in beautiful handmade bowls you get to take home for only $12. Many times artistic novices who venture over to the pottery table at Garden Gallery surprise themselves with an especially good-looking clay product.

The overhead hardly exists. Volunteers make the bowls. Students from Southeast Missouri State University craft the menu and cook the food, which is bought with grant money.

Southeast Missouri has dozens of food banks, meal delivery programs for seniors, soup kitchens and low-income children's food programs. All these organizations are trying to stop hunger.

In a down economy, people often have to make sacrifices and cut out costs. They should never have to cut out dinner.

This year the proceeds will benefit the Salvation Army, which has hosted one of the two annual November meals for four years. Aside from the organization's Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, the Salvation Army holds monthly Meals with Friends where it serves people dinner for a week.

A dinner I helped them get. I made two bowls this year, and I made plans to attend the banquet Sunday.

Hope to see you there.

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