DP – Empty Bowls leaves no empty sense of community

Dominion Post
Andrew Hesner

With more than 330 volunteers, 4,000 cookies and 403 gallons of soup, Empty Bowls Monongalia made sure the 1,800 patrons who attended on Saturday left with a full belly and a full sense of community.

The ninth annual soup and bread event, held in the Hazel and J.W. Ruby Community Center of Mylan Park, was under the direction of Empty Bowls Monongalia Board of Directors Chairman Corey Farris.

Farris, also the WVU Dean of Students, said for a minimum donation of $15 patrons enjoyed endless soup and a hand-crafted ceramic bowl.

Marking his sixth year involved in the event, Farris said that he has seen the anti-hunger fundraiser increase in its patron count, as well as production of its signature ceramic bowls.

The bowls, tallying about 2,100, were crafted by artisans including the WVU Craft Center, ZenClay and The WOW! Factory, among others.

And filling the bowls were soups donated from area restaurants. Some the soups included chicken noodle, donated by Bob Evans; tomato bisque, donated by the Vintage Room; Italian wedding, by Heston Farm Winery, in Fairmont; chili, by Schmitt’s Saloon; and vegetable, by Green Arch Market.

Farris said many of the restaurants reached out to Empty Bowls; however, others were asked by Chele Varner, the Food Procurement chairwoman and a branch manager at United Bank & Trust.

Varner has served on the board for the past six year.

Lisa Giuliani, first-year Empty Bowls Monongalia bowl coordinator and a potter with Lock House Studio in Morgantown, said her hunger to help the cause was the very reason she donated her time Saturday to it.

“Once you start helping, it’s easy to help more,” she said in the packed community center.

Satisfying his own hunger was WVU Professor of Ophthalmology Vernon Odom.

The Morgantown resident and professor at the university’s Eye Institute was meandering his way through the long line, while balancing his filled bowl of oyster stew.

“I saw the oyster stew and a short line and knew I had to have it,” he said.

Empty Bowls was formed in 1990 by a high school teacher and his students in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. as a way to support a food drive, according to Empty Bowls’ documents.

Empty Bowls Monongalia was formed in 2007 and was held in the First Presbyterian Church as a way to raise funds to church activities.