Empty Bowls $33,500: 2017 Donation Exceeds 2016 By $500

Hub City Empty Bowls is donating $33,500 to TOTAL MInistries in the wake of another very successful annual fundraising campaign that seeks to alleviate hunger in Spartanburg County.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” TOTAL’s Executive Director Traci Kennedy said. “This will go a long way in helping the hunger problem in this county. The kindness and hard work of Carolina Clay Artists are a Godsend to us. All I can really say on behalf of the thouands of needy people who will have food this coming year is ‘thank you.’”

Hub City Empty Bowls is a nonprofit agency created by Carolina Clay Artists, a group of potters and clay artists in Spartanburg. For the past nine years, the volunteers have localized the internationally renowned and successful Empty Bowls phenomenon, which aims to lessen hunger by making clay pottery bowls that are used to raise money. In recent years, they have partnered with TOTAL Ministries to conduct the campaign logistics and receive the financial benefit. Generally, Carolina Clay Artists handles the pottery bowl-making activities and TOTAL Ministries handles administration of the campaign.

Each summer, a series of bowl-making events are held in the community. At these events, the general public is able to make hand-shaped pottery bowls at no charge. Clay, studio space, tools, and instruction are all provided by Spartanburg Art Museum, West Main Artists Co-op, and other community donors. The bowls are kept by the Artists who repair, paint, and fire them. In the fall, they host Soup Day, an event that allows the public to receive the bowls, each for a $15 donation, and then enjoy a simple meal of soup and fellowship. The soup and related items, such as tea, napkins, and bread, are donated by local leading restaurants and other food providers.

This year, more than 1,300 people attended Soup Day at Chapman Cultural Center and took home one or more pottery bowls. In addition, the Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, event had live music, a silent auction, pottery demonstrations, and a drum circle. Soup Day 2018 is slated for Saturday, Sept. 29. In 2016, the donation to TOTAL was $33,000. As a grassroots effort, Hub City Empty Bowls is considered to be one of Spartanburg’s most successful and popular fundraisers.

“Hub City Empty Bowls is a series of coordinated activities combining the efforts of pottery volunteers, TOTAL volunteers, Spartanburg Art Museum staff, and many in the community who come together to help raise money to feed the hungry of Spartanburg County,” potter and event Chair Bruce Bowyer said. “The public bowl-making sessions are inspiring when you see the look of joy on the faces of the kids, adults, parents, and grandparents when they complete the making of a bowl or two that will be sold on Soup Day. In addition, on Soup Day the public can’t wait to get in to pick out there favorite bowl; then eat soup, enjoy music and fellowship. It takes a lot of work from many people to make this happen, but it is worth it when you see the result and know that many people will be provided food.”

It is estimated that more than 42,000 the citizens in Spartanburg County don’t know where their next meal is coming from. For every bowl that is received by donation at Soup Day about 83 pounds of food can be provided to those in need.

TOTAL Ministries got its start in 1982 as Project Eat. Founder Dannie Horne saw an unemployment rate of 9.7% and that many people in Spartanburg County were hungry. During the first 17 months of Project Eat's existence, $190,000 of groceries were distributed in an effort to alleviate that problem. In 1983, TOTAL Ministries of Spartanburg County, Inc. was incorporated by 12 Spartanburg churches to carry on the work of Project Eat. Since then, additional emergency services have been added to the TOTAL mission in an effort to help those in need. For those in need, TOTAL can help with utility services, food, and medications.

Empty Bowls is a worldwide charitable and social phenomenon without any oversight or headquarters. It was started in 1990-91 by a Michigan high school art teacher who wanted to involve his students in an art-based community project of making pottery bowls that could be used to raise money to feed the poor. From that humble beginning, the concept spread around the world, taking on many different aspects, but always keeping locally made pottery bowls as the source of the fundraising.

Hub City Empty Bowls came to Spartanburg in 2008 through the effort of Campobello potter Jim Cullen, who was on hand this year for pottery demonstrations.

This year’s major sponsors were Allegra - Marketing • Print • Mail, JM Smith Corporation, West Main Artists Co-Op, Spartanburg Art Museum, Chapman Cultural Center, and Chris Williams. The soup and food providers were Lemongrass Kitchen, Delaney’s Irish Pub, Mezcal Taberna, Andre Nguyen, Hub City Co-Op Grocery, Country Club of Spartanburg, Cribb's Catering, Cribb's Kitchen, Fatz Café, Garner's, Gerhards, McClellan's Urban Eatery, Mon Amie, Moveable Feasts, NuWay,Palmetto Palate, Renato's, Southern BBQ, Sparks Fire Inspired Grill @ Marriott, Sun King, Two Samuels, Wild Ace's, Willy Taco, Beacon Drive In, Cakehead Bakery, Long Horn's, Wade's Southern Cooking, and Chick-fil-a.

For more information about Hub City Empty Bowls, please visit online HubCityEmptyBowls.com and following the effort on Facebook.

This program is funded in part by the Spartanburg County Foundation; the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina; West Main Artists Co-op; Chapman Cultural Center; Spartanburg Art Museum; and the County and City of Spartanburg.