Empty Bowls to raise awareness of hunger in Yadkin

Lindsay CravenStaff Writer

September 26, 2012

Yadkin Christian Ministries will hold its third annual Empty Bowls charity event on Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Yadkinville United Methodist Church in order to raise money for the ministry’s food services.

"The Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem has been doing this event for 10 years, so two years ago when we went to their event we decided we wanted to do one for ourselves," said ministry assistant Peggy Lyon. "The empty bowls concept is if someone can come and pick out an empty bowl, a potter has made and they can see it’s empty and it can make them remember that there’s somebody that doesn’t have anything to go in their bowl. That’s the significance of the bowls."

The event will allow attendees to purchase a $20 ticket and receive their choice of a handmade bowl, a bowl of soup or stew, salad, bread and a dessert as well as entertainment throughout the meal. The proceeds for the event go to Yadkin Christian Ministries to assist in buying food for the pantry where struggling community members can pick up groceries.

Anyone interested in purchasing tickets can contact Peggy Lyon at Yadkin Christian Ministries by calling 677-3080 or stooping by Yadkin Christian Ministries' Yadkinville headquarters located at 112 W. Elm St.

The ministry

Yadkin Christian Ministries began in 1983 as an extension of the ministry in the county.

"Various churches were having people come and ask for assistance so we thought that if we had a place where we combine our efforts then we can do a better job at it," said Richard Eskew, director of Yadkin Christian Ministries.

Eskew said that the ministry has several different programs to offer the less fortunate in the county such as bill assistance, the food pantry and medication assistance.

"We’ve already spent $170,000 this year, and we were only budgeted $199,000," Eskew said.

The ministry receives several grants and donations from individuals, churches and organizations to help keep it running but when those monies aren’t enough to serve the need in Yadkin County the ministry must turn to fundraising efforts to be able to continue.

"We try to have these events like Walk for Hunger, Empty Bowls, Super Bowl and we’re also going to have breakfast at Forbush Church the first Saturday in October and there will be a breakfast at Courtney Church in January," Eskew said.

The bowls

The bowls that will be available at the Empty Bowls event are mostly hand crafted pottery from North Carolina potters. Ministry volunteers have been working for months to contact potters from across the state to donate or sale some of their bowls for a discounted rate.

"We have emails of potters and we have contacted potters as far away as Ashe County," Lyon said. "A group of us ladies went down to Seagrove a couple of weeks ago and just hit the potter’s shops because Seagrove is just lined with potters. Some of the bowls are donated and some of them have been purchased. We’re just getting them however we can."

Lyon said that last year’s event saw approximately 725 attendees. This year the ministry is shooting for 900. In early September the organization had acquired about 575 bowls and was working hard to collect the last 325 bowls before the event.

"The potters are really being hit hard right now; even some of the potters in Seagrove had to close because of the economy," Lyon said. "Everyone is working really hard and we don’t want to aggravate the potters to death so we’re just all trying to just buy the bowls or asking for donations."

Lyon said that the bowls are the only real expense that the ministry faces for the event. Courtney Baptist Church will donate a chicken stew, and vegetable and vegetable beef soup. Taste of Italy is donating the salads. The Pepsi Company is donating beverages. Bojangles is donating tea. McDonalds will be donating beverages and volunteers from the various churches in the county will donate desserts.

A volunteer’s final gift

While members of the ministry are excited about the upcoming event, it will be a somber time as well. Yadkin Christian Ministries lost one of its most devoted volunteers this year. Susan Steelman spent many of her retired years volunteering in the food pantry of Yadkin Christian Ministries and was an eager volunteer at the last two Empty Bowls events.

"She was full of life and she loved working, serving and giving and working with Yadkin Christian Ministries," said Janet Robbins, Steelman’s daughter. "She liked to use every minute of the day to stay busy."

Robbins said that when Steelman fell ill they would take trips somewhere fun each week. Robbins said that Steelman had told her that she would really like to make one of those trips to Seagrove in order to buy bowls to donate to the Empty Bowls event.

That trip didn’t happen for Steelman. She was hospitalized and unable to make the hour and a half trip to the pottery hub of the state. When Robbins friends learned about Steelman’s unfulfilled wish they stepped up.

"In August when she was hospitalized those last 10 days that was one of the things that she wished she could have been able to do," Robbins said. "So one of my friends live close to Seagrove came in the day before my mom passed away with a bag of bowls and we unwrapped them and put them on a window sill and it was just beautiful. She couldn’t speak at that point but I really think that she felt like her work was done at that point because we had done that shopping for her. She wanted to finish that one last act of service."

Robbins said that in honor and memory of her mother she too traveled out to Seagrove to purchase bowls to donate to the event and that she plans to volunteer her time at the event on Oct. 30.

"I got 10 more bowls that I’ve donated so that way I felt like I helped too," Robbins said. ‘I’m going to volunteer this year with Empty Bowls also because she can’t be here and so I’m going to serve in her place."

Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at lcraven@heartlandpublications.com.