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Church holds fundraiser for North Georgia food bank

POSTED: October 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

Some of the pottery bowls that were made by students to be given away Thursday at the second annual Empty Bowls Luncheon at the First Baptist Church in Gainesville. The bowls serve as a reminder of the issue of hunger in the Gainesville community.

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People went to First Baptist Church in Gainesville on Thursday to fill their bowls to raise money and awareness for hunger in the community at the second annual Empty Bowls Luncheon.

The luncheon is a localization of a national fundraiser, which combines pottery and philanthropy to raise awareness of hunger and raise funds for food banks. Proceeds from the event benefit the Georgia Mountain Food Bank Fund at the North Georgia Community Foundation.

"Local restaurants donate the food, and the art students and potters make the bowls," said Kay Blackstock, project coordinator for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank. "People come and have lunch with us, and then when they get ready to leave, they pick a bowl to take with them as a reminder of empty bowls in our community."

Hundreds of colorful clay bowls adorned tables in the banquet hall of First Baptist Church during the luncheon.

The event was a relaxed buffet that featured a variety of soups from local restaurants, and guests came for lunch any time between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Blackstock said about 200 people confirmed they were coming.

Bill Coates, the senior minister at First Baptist Church, said he is happy his church was involved in the Empty Bowls Luncheon and is looking forward to a partnership with the food bank.

"We’re real thrilled to be associated with the food bank, and we’ve got several people who are involved in our church and on our staff," Coates said. "We hosted it last year and hope we’ll get to continue doing that."

Coates said he is hoping to start a program working with the food bank to feed those in need once a week at his church so that "anybody who needs a meal can come in and have a good hot meal."

James and Frances Mathis said they came to the luncheon to help support the food bank.

"I think it’s a very important cause, and I’m glad to see us doing this here in Gainesville," James Mathis said.

He said he feels so strongly about the cause that he donated $200 instead of the $25 admission for the luncheon.

Sonya Smith said she thinks the Empty Bowls Luncheon is a unique way to raise awareness for hunger and liked the idea of handmade pottery.

"It’s a wonderful way to get students involved and teach them about what’s going on in their communities," she said.

Martha Cartee attended the event for the second time and said she thinks it is a great fundraiser.

"It’s a great cause. I came to the one last year and I really enjoyed the fellowship and the purpose of what it was," Cartee said.

Blackstock said the money from the Empty Bowls Luncheon will help get the Georgia Mountain Food Bank Fund up and running.

"What we’re trying to do right now is raise money for the first three years of operation," Blackstock said.

Though the group would eventually like to purchase a permanent space, right now it is concentrating on services.

"It’s about building resources and relationships in the beginning," Blackstock said.


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