Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist,
one-third rich and two-thirds hungry."
Jimmy Carter

A couple years after I moved back to Jacksonville, I heard an advertisement for an Empty Bowl Luncheon held to raise money and awareness for the Second Harvest Food Bank here in NE Florida. The idea is simple. School kids make bowls in art class and donate them. People who attend the luncheon get to pick out a bowl. The meal - a bowl of soup, some bread and some fruit -is meant to remind attendees about the growing number of people for whom a bowl of soup is a blessing. The Empty Bowls Luncheon is always held right before Thanksgiving. Another reminder that  the time for gratefulness should not just one day a year. For those who are hungry, every day they have food is reason for gratitude.

Until today I've never been to the luncheon.  I was reminded by my blog friend and bowl maker Illuminary a few weeks ago that it was that time of year again. Her kiln has been full of bowls for awhile.  I guess it stuck in my mind so I was ready when I saw a billboard announcing the date for our luncheon. This year I hadn't missed it. I bought tickets for Sweetie and ME. Not sure what to expect except bowls and soup, we headed downtown in order to be there when the doors opened.  Good thing.

One whole convention center banquet hall was full of tables. And there were way more bowls than the Pottery Barn could ever hope to display.  At first I was like a kid in Toys R Us on Black Friday. I wanted one of each.  When my eyes lit on a bowl of my fancy I picked it up, then moved on down the table. At one point I had four bowls in my hands. My plan was to carry them around until I'd seen all the bowls then pick the one I liked best. Halfway down the first table I heard someone say we got one bowl free and could buy others for $10 each. My goodness. I was in bowl heaven.  Unlike my grab and carry technique I noticed Sweetie slowly and systematically (always turning to the right) perusing every table. He picked up one or two for a closer look. Then gently laid them back on the table and continued his search.  Like Goldilocks, he would know it when the bowl that was "just right" appeared.

The neat line around the bowl laden tables quickly turned into a crowd.  Little kids, old men, moms, teachers. Good thing there were more than enough bowls to go around. Plus a table full of "celebrity" bowls - one painted by a circus elephant  - and a silent auction of bowls made by local artists.
My choice. Who can resist a smiley face?
Sweetie picked out a whole set.

Once Sweetie and I had made our picks we sat down at a table for a bowl of chicken noodle soup. What it lacked in size, it made up for in surprisingly good taste. Then, of course, came the program which proved to be a bit of an eyeopener.  For isnstance:

  • Right here in my hometown, 1 out of every 6 people and 1 out of every four children are food "insecure." Which means they don't know where their next meal is coming from. 
  • Every day 34,000+ people in Jacksonville wonder when, where and how they will find food. 
  • By 2015 the Second Harvest Food Bank expects to have given away 40 MILLION pounds of food.  
  • We were reminded that the day care worker who watches our kids, the person who bags our groceries, the grandparents on a fixed income who are often raising their grandchildren, single moms, maybe even our neighbor or church member could be one of the people being served by the food bank. 
  • There is a new face of homelessness - children. School aged children who are expected to learn how to read and write on an empty stomach.  Maybe we don't need more or better schools. Maybe we just need to make sure kids get a good breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The event was, to say the least, a reason to stop and give thanks for our bountiful blessings. Every time I look at my bowl(s) I hope to remember to lift up a prayer for those without.  I encourage you to find out if there is an Empty Bowls Luncheon in your neck of the woods. If there is attend it. If there isn't I'm sure there is a food pantry willing to take your donations. I assure you when you "reach beyond yourself to make life better for others," some of the magic of giving will stay with you.

Merry ME

P.S. It's not to late to donate to a charity of your choice for Super Storm Sandy relieve and get your name in a drawing for the quilt pictured below.  I'm going to select the winner on Thanksgiving day.


Fire Byrd said...

It is frightening how so many 'normal' people now are finding it tough going both with you and here.
Increasingly we have food collections to give for, as yet no lunch's like yours

AkasaWolfSong said...

What a worthy event worth mentioning Mary...it is scary-sad how many mouths need to be fed in this very rich country of ours...
I would rather have seen all of the monies spent on this presidential election gone to food pantries. Millions and millions would have fed everyone I'm sure!!

The kids in our city were lucky enough to have meals all summer long even though school was not in normal session...they established set-ups for all the kids to eat three squares a day. I think during the school year it may be the same? I know they can get breakfast and lunch.
We really need to be cognizant of our neighbors every single day.
I love the bowls you and Sweetie chose! And...everyone receives a blessing by doing so...I was just blessed by reading this! :)
Sending Love, Warm Thoughts and Hugs Sister Soul...