SPARTANBURG — Hub City Empty Bowls anticipates another great art-based campaign in 2016 to feed the hungry people in Spartanburg County and invites everyone to make hand-crafted pottery bowls at free public events this summer. The finished bowls will be used for the annual Soup Day fundraiser in the autumn.
This year, there will be three bowl-making opportunities for public participation: Saturday, July 16, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. in Spartanburg Art Museum’s studios at Chapman Cultural Center; Thursday, July 21, 6-8:30 p.m. at West Main Artists Co-Op; and Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. in Spartanburg Art Museum’s studios at Chapman Cultural Center. The Soup Day fundraiser will be Saturday, Oct. 15, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Chapman Cultural Center. The food pantry at TOTAL Ministries will receive the proceeds from the fundraiser to help feed the needy in Spartanburg County.
According to a 2016 report by County Health Rankings & Roadmaps by University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 15 percent of Spartanburg’s population — that’s 42,980 people — is “food insecure.” In Greenville County, the percentage is 14. The lowest ranking county in the state is Lexington with 12 percent, and the highest ranking county is Allendale with 28 percent. Overall, 17 percent of the people in South Carolina “lack adequate access to food.”
“We might not be the worst county in South Carolina with a hunger problem,” Traci Kennedy, Director of TOTAL Ministries, said. “But 42,980 is a lot of people — our friends and neighbors — who don’t have enough to eat. For children it is even worse. 22.5 percent of the children in Spartanburg — almost one out of every four — is going hungry. It is TOTAL Ministries’ mission to help feed the hungry, and thanks to Hub City Empty Bowls, we are making headway. I just pray we have another good turnout of people to make the bowls and then have them and their friends come back on Soup Day to make donations, take the bowls home, eat some truly wonderful soup, and take comfort in knowing they have helped someone in need.” TOTAL Ministries has an annual budget of about $300,000, normally helps more than 4,500 households each year.
But first, you need to make pottery bowls. Bowl-making events provide a unique opportunity for members of the community to experience the pleasure of working with clay at no cost and at any level of experience, including no experience. The clay, facilities, and instruction are all donated. Members of Carolina Clay Artists and volunteers will be on hand to instruct participants in the techniques of bowl-making. Many of the bowls will be simple and primitive, which has a beauty all of its own. Some participants are experienced potters, who make their bowls on pottery wheels, often producing professional-grade bowls. The events are open to anyone willing to give of their time and effort, and make for wholesome and free family activities. The bowls are left at the studios and are later glazed and fired by experienced volunteers.
“People look forward to our bowl-making events every year,” Nancy Williamson, publicity leader on behalf of Carolina Clay Artists, said. “I see some of the same faces and families come back each year. It’s fun, easy, creative, free, and, of course, it is for a good cause. I am truly amazed at some of the raw talent I is see. Even more amazing is to see all the finished bowls laid out on Soup Day for the public to take home. It’s almost like an art exhibit — a huge art exhibit with every color of the rainbow and shape imaginable.”
Proceeds from last year’s campaign allowed Hub City Empty Bowls to make an all-time high donation of $26,000 to TOTAL Ministries, a faith-based organization with a primary mission of helping the financially disadvantaged citizens of the community. Most of the money was raised on Soup Day, when citizens would receive the handmade bowls by donating $15. As part of the festive occasion, local restaurants donated gourmet soup that the donors could enjoy, along with live music and fellowship. 2016 marks the eighth year that Carolina Clay Artists has spearheaded the local effort of the internationally successful Empty Bowls concept of feeding the needy through the creation of pottery bowls.
On Soup Day, the hundreds of finished and colorful bowls will be displayed in Spartanburg Art Museum at Chapman Cultural Center. For every $15 donation, the donor gets to keep a bowl of his or her choice and enjoy a simple meal of soup, bread, and tea, served in Chapman’s theater lobby. Along the perimeter of the lobby will be various serving stations set up by local restaurants that donate a wide selection of soups to the occasion. Patrons can enjoy soups from some of the best restaurants in Spartanburg, while dining under a large canopy set up in the outdoor plaza, and enjoy listening to live music and sharing in the fellowship of knowing they are helping feed citizens in the local community. A silent auction of donated items also takes place as another means of raising money. The tradition of having a drum circle in the lobby or plaza will continue this year.
Empty Bowls was started by a high school teacher in Michigan in 1990 as a high school student project to help feed the needy and has grown into an international phenomenon. There are hundreds of Empty Bowls projects around the world, raising millions of dollars to feed the hungry. Each Empty Bowls organization is independent and self-governed.
Thus far, this year’s sponsors are Spartanburg Regional Foundation Healing Arts Fund, Carolina Clay Artists, West Main Artists Co-Op, Action Printing, Milliken & Company, Wheresville Productions, Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg Art Museum, and Chris Williams. The project is still seeking more sponsors: companies and individuals willing to donate funds; restaurants to donate soup, bread, and tea; other businesses to donate eating utensils, such as paper cups, plastic spoon, and napkins; individuals and businesses to donate silent auction items; and potters to make the bowls. Those willing to donate should contact Traci Kennedy at Director@TotalMinistries.org or (864) 585-9167. For more information about TOTAL Ministries please visit TotalMinistries.org.
Hub City Empty Bowls is a component fund of the Spartanburg County Foundation. It was established to increase awareness about the issues of hunger and food insecurity, and to help local organizations fight hunger. For more information, please visit online: HubCityEmptyBowls.com. For the latest information on Hub City Empty Bowls, please like the organization on Facebook.
This story courtesy of Chapman Cultural Center.