By David Rogers. May 6, 2018. BOONE, NC — Few special events celebrating the work of non-profit organizations are as poignant as Saturday’s “Empty Bowls” event, hosted and managed by Watauga High School students and faculty to benefit the Hunger and Health Coalition. The 2018 Empty Bowls event is the 17th annual benefit for HH&C staged by Watauga High School.
As a patron of the event, you donate a minimum of $20 to buy one of the hundreds of bowls crafted by pottery professionals and student artisans — and donated to the event. Then you fill the bowl with various kinds of soup, each variety donated by one of several local restaurants from Boone and Blowing Rock.
On one level, it is the ultimate in bringing together different segments of our local population for a common cause. Artisans create the vessels. Restaurants create the food that goes in the bowls. And the patrons providing the cash get to take home something of value in exchange for their money.
But there is a second level, and that is why so many of us give MORE than a crisp $20 bill when we buy a ticket into the event. If we are getting something in return for our donation, maybe even a bowl worth more than $20 (especially after it is filled with food), then we aren’t REALLY giving, are we? If all we give is $20, then the artisans and restauranteurs are together creating something for us to buy, then THEY are donating the money to Hunger & Health Coalition. So kudos to them, and also a big acknowledgement of those who gave more. They did so asking for nothing in return.
Then there is a third level of this event and that is the realization that many of the needful people served by Hunger & Health Coalition enthusiastically welcome — every day — something as simple as a bowl of soup and a piece of bread. For the briefest of moments, we are not buying an expensive bowl of soup, but walking in the shoes of so many people less fortunate than us.
The most recent statistics reveal that more than 31% of Watauga County residents live below what is regarded as the poverty line, income wise. Even in what is more widely perceived as “affluent” Blowing Rock, more than 20% of the elementary and middle school students at Blowing Rock School are on supplemental meal plans.
According to the organization’s 2017 annual report, Hunger & Health Coalition distributed 11,385 food boxes last year, responding to 28,161 client visits. They dished out 43,916 to-go meals and saw 125,528 pounds of produce donated.
HH&C fed 215 families a Thanksgiving dinner. At Christmas, the organization’s “Sharing Tree” program brought smiles to 556 individuals, 313 being children and seniors.
Here’s to the hundreds of people who purchased empty bowls on Saturday as patrons of the Empty Bowls event. And here is a special acknowledgment of those who gave MORE, asking for nothing in return except the satisfaction that they are helping Hunger & Health Coalition continue its fight against poverty and hunger in the High Country.