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Empty Bowls event raises funds to feed hungry in county

For the 11th year, the Pike County Salvation Army Empty Bowls 2020 Luncheon on Friday was a great success.

The annual community-wide luncheon that benefits the local Salvation Army’s food pantry, which feeds friends and neighbors in need, had been rescheduled several times due to COVID-19.

The belief of Kim May, Pike County Salvation Army director and her advisory board, was that Empty Bowls is too important to the operation of the local Salvation Army and to the Pike County community to cancel it.

“Pike County is a very giving community and our people have always been supportive of Empty Bowls,” May said. “We believed that the support would be there so we moved ahead in faith.”

And, that faith was not misplaced.

Around noon on Friday, May said the Empty Bowls 2020 coffer had reached nearly $14,000 and there was the possibility that it could tip near $15,000 making it one of most financially successful Empty Bowl Luncheons for the Pike County Salvation Army.

“We didn’t have as many to dine in at this year’s Empty Bowls Luncheon and we expected that because of the coronavirus,” May said. “But, we did have a lot of take-outs and that helped make up the difference. Those who chose to dine-in at the Bush Baptist Church Family Life Center enjoyed the fellowship of friends and neighbors, the outstanding music of Ed Whatley and, of course, like those who chose the ‘carry-out option, got their choice of an ‘empty bowl’ to take home.”

Those who attended the luncheon also had the opportunity to bid on ceramic pottery made by local clay artists.

“Because of the support and generosity of so many people, Empty Bowls is a no-cost event,” May said. “Everything here was donated. The soups, stews and chilies were donated by people throughout the community and local restaurants. The desserts were donated by local cooks. Everything donated was greatly appreciated. All of those who assisted with the luncheon donated their time and their talents.

The Empty Bowls Luncheon is strongly supported by local sponsorships, which are the meat and taters of the annual luncheon event, so to speak, May said.   

“We can never thank our sponsors enough,” May said in acknowledging the 2020 Empty Bowls sponsors and those who donated soups, desserts, take-home bowls and bid bowls, those who assisted with the luncheon, the Salvation Army Advisory Board and all of those who came out in support of Empty Bowls on Friday.

May shared a story about a man who left this earth and was taken on a tour of the “inner realms.

The man was shown a room where he saw a large group of hungry people trying to each dinner but, because their spoons were longer than their arms, they remained frustrated, May said.

“‘This is hell,” the guide told the man.

“This is terrible. Please show me heaven,” the man said.

The guild took him to another room. When he opened Heaven’s door, at first it appeared to be the same scene, a group of hungry people with spoons that were longer than their arms. However, the people were happy diners. The difference between hell and heaven was that the people in Heaven had learned to feed each other.

“We at the Salvation Army believe that here on Earth, we are called upon to feed each other as well,” May said. “So, it is our goal to raise money to feed hungry people here at home and help bring about an attitude that will not allow hunger to exist.”

May said to help achieve that goal, Empty Bowls has become an annual event in Pike County.

“We try bring hunger to the forefront because there a people here in our community who are hungry.”

Professional artists and student artists create the handmade bowls that luncheon guests select to keep as a reminder of the purpose of the Empty Bowls meal.

“Every time we look at our bowls, or use them, we are reminded that somewhere, someone’s bowl in always empty.”