For the 13th year in Augusta, the Augusta Jewish Community Center (AJCC) and Golden Harvest Food Bank bring together the community to end hunger together through Empty Bowl 2014.
“I don’t know if this is why it’s so popular, but Empty Bowl does involve the entire community,” said event Chair Susan Steinberg. “It’s the schools, the children, the people who attend, the restaurants, the businesses… everybody gets involved.”
Empty Bowl events have been popular fundraisers around the country, and they came to Augusta when another long-time organizer, Westside High art teacher Debra Katcoff, heard about them while in Atlanta.
“She went to an art meeting in Atlanta and they talked about Empty Bowls there,” Steinberg explained. “So she brought the idea back and the Augusta Jewish Community Center partnered with Golden Harvest Food Bank. She has been extremely instrumental in getting information out to the schools about kids making the bowls and also with our T-shirt contest.”
Though they don’t serve soup in them, the ceramic bowls are a hallmark of Augusta’s Empty Bowl. Made mostly by area students (although some local artists contribute as well), they’ve become a collector’s item to many and a reminder of the event’s purpose.
“Every ticket holder gets a free ceramic bowl made by area students or, occasionally, by artists,” Steinberg said. “The bowls are to remind them that people have empty bowls.”
To accomplish their goal of ending hunger together, Empty Bowl raises funds through ticket sales, silent auctions, a raffle, canned good donations and more. Extra bowls can be purchased for $10, and participants can also purchase T-shirts and note cards decorated with the current year’s winning logo, chosen from designs submitted by area students.
The proceeds from the event are split equally between Golden Harvest and the AJCC, who uses it for senior citizen programming and for the food program they offer.
And while the food — soups, breads and desserts donated by approximately 80 area restaurants and caterers — is certainly a big reason people attend, so is the silent auction.
“It’s very large,” Steinberg laughed, adding that, in past years, they’ve had more than 200 items to give away. “We have items, we have gift certificates, we have restaurant certificates, we have stuff for kids, we have stuff for men.”
The raffle, for a bike donated by Chain Reaction, is also popular. Raffle tickets are given for each can of food donated, and participants can purchase additional tickets for $1 each.
A component new to this year’s Empty Bowl, however, may surpass the others in popularity. “Stone Soup,” an interactive storytelling event, gets kids involved.
“We have a storyteller who will tell them the story and the kids will actually make the stone soup,” Steinberg explained, “so it’ll be an interactive experience where they will learn how they can help and how it takes a group to help end hunger or, in this case, feed the village.”
Two sessions of “Stone Soup” will be available; one at noon and one at 1:30 p.m.
It’ll be a busy day, but one that everyone, organizers and participants alike, look forward to each year.
“People keep coming back,” Steinberg said. “They look forward to it and they look forward to getting their bowls. And I think everybody enjoys the food. The local restaurants and caterers are very generous.”
Tickets for Empty Bowl 2014 can be purchased at the AJCC, Golden Harvest Food Bank, WifeSaver in North Augusta, Weinberger’s Furniture and New Moon Cafe. Those interested can also call the AJCC at 706-228-3636, pay for tickets by credit card and pick them up at will call the day of the event.
Empty Bowl 2014
Augusta Jewish Community Center
Sunday, March 2
11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Advance tickets: $18, adults and $5, children 2-10
At the door: $25 and $7.50