Meredith Ray doesn’t have the typical collection. It’s not stamps or coins but handcrafted bowls designed with a special purpose by area schoolchildren.
“Every year, I collect one. All of the bowls have an Asian feel,” said Ray, who has about 11 bowls she has received through attending the annual Empty Bowl event at the Augusta Jewish Community Center.
About 500 people, including around 100 volunteers, attended the event, which was held Sunday, said Susan Steinberg, the event chairwoman.
Between 75 and 100 area restaurants donated soups, breads and desserts for the 11th annual fundraiser. In addition, there was a silent auction.
Children from about 20 elementary, middle and high schools make the bowls, said Debbie Katcoff, an art teacher at Westside High School and Empty Bowl volunteer who brought the idea for the fundraiser to the Augusta area.
“Every day, we see the negative things about kids in the news, but these are kids who are doing something positive. Most of the kids we teach are good. They are excited they are volunteers,” she said.
There’s also a T-shirt design contest. This year’s winner is Rebecca Hogue, a Westside student, whose parents also own a deli. Her involvement with the fundraiser prompted her parents’ involvement as well, Katcoff said.
The bowls serve as more than a creative art project or a clever souvenir.
“The empty bowls are to remind people that people, even in this area, do go hungry,” Steinberg said.
Michael Firmin, the executive director of the Golden Harvest Food Bank, said Empty Bowl brings the community together and is the epitome of the efforts of his 30-year career.
“What a tremendous partnership this is. It’s iconic of the way the food bank has always worked in collaboration with other organizations,” he said.
For the past few years, Empty Bowl has raised about $20,000 for the Augusta Jewish Community Center and the Golden Harvest Food Bank. Each organization receives half of the proceeds.
Steinberg said it would be a few days before final numbers were tallied for this year’s event.