Many people don’t consider hunger an issue in America and especially here in Greenwood. But the fact is that the number of meals being served at the Greenwood Soup Kitchen has nearly doubled in recent years. More people equals more need and, now entering its fifth year, Empty Bowls is helping meet that need.
Empty Bowls is an international movement that marries artists with local organizations fighting hunger. Here in Greenwood, local potters and woodworkers join forces with the Greenwood Soup Kitchen and, along with the Greenwood County Medical Alliance, provide the local soup kitchen with its most significant source of revenue each year.
The Empty Bowls movement began here in Greenwood when some local potters taking classes at Piedmont Technical College’s Edgefield campus began thinking of a way they could make a difference in their community.
Donna Conley, a member of the Greenwood Area Studio Potters (GASP), said everything just came together perfectly for the fundraiser. “I saw an Empty Bowls event in Chicago and thought that we should do something like that in Greenwood,” Conley said. “Laura Bachinski was there and said that the Greenwood County Medical Alliance was looking for an event to partner with. So we went to the soup kitchen with the idea.”
Greenwood Soup Kitchen executive director Norm Fawcett said he loved the idea from the very beginning.
“Usually, people tell you they have a great idea for a fundraiser and then they leave it up to you to figure out how to pull it off,” Fawcett said. “Not these ladies. They brought me the complete idea and even said that they would do everything for it.”
So what exactly is Empty Bowls? Local potters and woodworkers make decorative bowls that they would sell as art and donate them to the soup kitchen. The soup kitchen and the Greenwood County Medical Alliance sell tickets to the event and get area businesses to sponsor it as well. When you show up at the event, you pick out your bowl and get some soup. At the end of the night, you take your empty bowl home as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.
The event started in Greenwood in 2009. That year, the only money generated was from selling tickets; there were no sponsors. Still, the soup kitchen raised about $6,500. In 2010, they added some business sponsors and raised about $11,000. In 2011, they were able to double that amount to about $22,000. Last year, the soup kitchen raised nearly $25,000, which is the equivalent of nearly 14,000 meals for those in need.
Fawcett says that the soup kitchen serves 140 people per day on average, which translates into nearly 40,000 meals annually. The soup kitchen serves meals Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 noon.
Fawcett said that the soup kitchen is funded entirely through donations.
“We don’t receive any grants whatsoever,” Fawcett said.”We are completely supported by the very generous people and businesses in the area. With a cash budget of about $71,000, the Empty Bowls event is very important to us. We are also 100 percent volunteers so everything that people donate goes directly to feeding the hungry.”
This year’s Empty Bowls event will be held on Oct. 10 at the Greenwood Soup Kitchen, located at 929 Phoenix Street at the United Center for Community Care (old Emerald Center). There will be three seatings: 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. You can also purchase to-go tickets.
If you would like to purchase tickets or would like more information about the Greenwood Soup Kitchen, click the Empty Bowls banner to the right!