Hub City Empty Bowls Raises $22,500 to End Hunger in Spartanburg, SC

Hub City Empty Bowls recently donated an additional $14,100 to TOTAL Ministries, bringing the sum for 2014 to $22,500. The money was made one hand-made clay bowl at a time in an effort to eliminate hunger in the Spartanburg community.

“The community seems to have really embraced this event, coming out to make the bowls, then coming back for ‘Soup Day’ to buy the bowls,” Nancy Williamson, chair of Hub City Empty Bowls, said.

For months, Carolina Clay Artists, a group of local potters, encouraged other potters and the general public to make and donate bowls at bowl-making events held mostly at Chapman Cultural Center and West Main Artists Co-op. These unfinished bowls were then glazed, fired, and used on “Soup Day,” when for a $15 donation, patrons select a pottery bowl to keep and enjoy gourmet soup from some of the best restaurants in town. Each bowl required a $15 donation, and some patrons bought several.

Sponsors for 2014 included: Chris Williams of Clay King, Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg Art Museum, West Main Artists Co-op, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare Foundation, Action Printing, Wheresville Productions, and Carolina Clay Artists. Additionally, funds were received from individual donors to help pay for overhead expenses and for opening an account at Spartanburg County Foundation. This account provides Hub City Empty Bowls with a tax-exempt umbrella.

“We are just so grateful for every sponsor and donor who contributed,” Williamson said. “We had increased expenses this year, yet, we were able to pay all of our expenses, set up the fund with Spartanburg County Foundation, and increase the net donation to TOTAL Ministries by $4,000 over last year. Having the tax-exempt status helps us build our capacity to raise funds and improves our position to apply for larger grants and sponsorships for future years.”

The $22,500 (net) given to TOTAL Ministries is a record amount for Hub City Empty Bowls. In 2009, the donation to the Soup Kitchen was $10,000; in 2011, $6,000 to Mobile Meals; in January 2012, $6,677 to TOTAL Ministries; in November 2012, $12,000 to the Soup Kitchen; and in 2013, $18,593 to TOTAL Ministries. The goal was to make 1200 bowls for 2014; 1500 bowls were actually made.

Local restaurants and musicians contributed to the project’s success. Delicious gourmet soups, breads, and beverages were donated by local restaurants. These included: II Samuels, Andre Nguyen, Basil’s, Bull Hawg’s, Chef  Bill McClellan Catering Services, Cribb’s Catering, Cribb’s Kitchen, Farmer’s Table, Fatz (Pottery Road), Garner’s, Gerhard’s, Lime Leaf, Monsoon Noddle House, Moveable Feast, NuWay Restaurant and Lounge, Palmetto Palate, Renato’s, Sparks Fire Inspired Grille at Marriott, Sun King, Wild Ace Pizza and Pub, Willy Taco, Cakehead Bakery, Chick-fil-A, Little River Roasting Company, Long Horn’s, The Beacon, and Wade’s.

Mark Miller of Wheresville Productions recruited local musicians who donated their talents. Participants included Anna V, Fayssoux, Not Even Brothers, Grey Ally, Josie Pettit Band, and the Brianna Hamilton Band. Melisa Emkjer led drum circles that added to the grassroots environment.

TOTAL Ministries was the beneficiary of Hub City Empty Bowls for the second year in a row. Staff, volunteers, and board members from TOTAL Ministries participated in the bowl-making events, worked “Soup Day” and recruited the restaurants.

“The folks from TOTAL Ministries were with us every step of the way,” Williamson said. “We asked a lot of them, and they did not hesitate to work with us.”

“TOTAL Ministries is forever grateful to Hub City Empty Bowls for making us the beneficiary of their efforts,” Traci Kennedy, Executive Director of  TOTAL Ministries, said. “This money is already being put to good use… feeding Spartanburg citizens who would go hungry otherwise. Empty Bowls is a Godsend to us. We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough.”

For folks who missed Soup Day, there is still a chance to purchase a pottery bowl made for Hub City Empty Bowl 2014. Mary and Gerhard Grommer at Gerhard’s Café in Spartanburg generously purchased most of the leftover bowls. Cups or bowls of Gerhard’s soups are available to be served in one of the “Empty Bowls” (just ask your server), and if a patron wants to keep the serving bowl, he or she need only pay an additional $2 charge. Gerhard’s will donate the money from bowl sales to TOTAL Ministries.

Soup Day 2015 is already scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26 at Chapman Cultural Center. Bowl-making events will start in the summer.

For further info call 864/278-9698 or e-mail to (sWong@SpartanArts.org).

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