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Empty Bowls event aims to fill Salvation Army's coffers
Savory scents of soup and strains of violin music wafted into the Salvation Army lobby Sunday during the 11th annual Empty Bowls banquet.
Students from Southeast Missouri State University’s dietetics program made and served the food, and handmade bowls were donated by Linda Bohnsack.
Violinist Andrew Bailey provided music.
The event was part of a coordinated effort by the Salvation Army to raise money to feed people in need. Proceeds benefit the Meals with Friends program.
Charlotte Cervantes, dietetics instructor at Southeast, said she was supervising students from the Student Dietetic Association and Southeast’s food-service operations course as they prepared and served food for attendees.
“Most of them are getting ready to graduate with their degrees in May, so this is great practice for them,” she said, adding the event puts emphasis on art with the handmade bowls.
“Since 2006, we’ve raised about $57,000 with this program for the Salvation Army,” Cervantes said. “This event raises a lot of money.”
Cervantes said they had prepared enough food for 200 people and hoped to run out.
“It’d be great if we needed to prepare for 300 next year,” she said. “We hope people will come back.”
Joel Ramdial, nutrition and dietetics instructor at Southeast, said he hopes the communitywide event increases awareness of hunger issues in the Cape Girardeau area and gives students hands-on experience.
“We’re really pleased,” he said.
Ronnie Amick, Salvation Army Cape Girardeau worship center director, said normally the organization has held the event in November, but this year decided to move it up in the calendar year.
Bohnsack agreed, saying November is a busy month for the Salvation Army and volunteers.
“The craft show does well,” she said, but having two events in one month was a little much, especially considering how busy the holiday season is for them. “This is easier on us.”
Bohnsack donated hand-thrown bowls this year, using her studio space as a production center for volunteers to help throw, paint or glaze.
“Several groups come in to help,” she said, including Semo Serves and other student groups.
Southeast faculty and students also contributed, providing over 200 bowls total.
“It’s great community teamwork,” Bohnsack said.
Salvation Army intern Justin Tracy said he was happy to be part of this event, even in his capacity selling Holy Vibes coffee, a specialty blend being sold as a promotional fundraiser for the Salvation Army’s “20 New Corps” program.
“We’ll be selling it through May,” said Amick, who was with Tracy at the booth.
Amick said he had been in Perryville, Missouri, since Tuesday’s tornado, directing relief efforts and generally assisting where he was needed.
“I haven’t slept much this week,” he said. “But that’s the best part of my job, is helping where I can.”
Patricia Moore said she was attending the banquet for the first time, and she’ll be back.
“I love it,” she said. “The bowls are all so beautiful. It was a hard decision.”
She traced the rim of her shallow serving dish and smiled.
“I’ll try to bring more people with me next time. This is really nice,” Moore said.
Southeast president Carlos Vargas-Aburto and his wife, Pam Vargas, said they’re happy to support events such as this.
“It’s very low-key, very nice,” Vargas-Aburto said.
His ceramic piece was a mug rather than a bowl, glazed deep blue with a sandy finish on the bottom, and it read “Dad” across the front.
“I thought of it first for my son, who is a father now,” he said. “But of course, I am a father, too.”
Vargas said her bowl, with its brown glaze and rounded lip, was different but lovely, and she was pleased to see an event such as this in Cape Girardeau.
“This is our second time here,” she said, adding she and her husband have lived in Cape Girardeau only a year and a half, when he became president of the university.
“We hope to be back for more,” she said.
“We’re happy this teamwork with the university is working so well,” Bohnsack said. “We are also so glad the community comes out in support.”
Pertinent address: 701 Good Hope St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.