Empty Bowls leaves participants with full hearts
March 8—ALBANY—Wednesday’s Empty Bowls event — and it was an event — at the Northwest Library Branch was a stark reminder that the annual fundraiser is much more than just a way to contribute to two of the nation’s largest nonprofits. honorable of Albany.
It was, for event sponsors and attendees, something of a “family reunion” for supporters who have made the annual fundraiser a must.
“It’s the food and the bowls, but more than that it’s an opportunity to get together with friends,” said Betty Hurt of Albany as she waited in a long line for the event to begin. “I travel a lot, but every year my friends and I meet at Empty Bowls.”
The fundraiser supports community life events sponsored by the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging and the Albany Area Arts Council. The executive directors of those two agencies, Izzie Sadler and Nicole Williams, respectively, said the feeling of a “return to normalcy” after several years of cancellations caused by COVID gave Wednesday’s event an extra homecoming.
“We’ve been doing this for a while (10 years) now, and there’s a similarity in it,” Williams said. “But once everyone shows up and you see people looking excitedly over the bowls and chatting in small groups at the table, there’s a tremendous sense of community.”
Sadler, whose agency uses funds raised by Empty Bowls for its program that feeds seniors in the community, said there is a “warm feeling” surrounding Empty Bowls.
“Each year for us, the Empty Bowls are the same, but different,” said the director of the SWGA Council on Aging. “There are some changes in dynamics from time to time: a new venue, a larger or smaller number of tickets and cups available. But what does not change is the spirit of the people who are so loyal to this event.”
Rosalynn Fliggins of Albany said she has been trying to get tickets to Empty Bowls for years. She finally scored one — with the help of a friend — for Wednesday’s edition.
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“I knew it was going to be like this; there’s such a good energy,” Fliggins said. “I’ve been trying to get tickets for years, and they were always sold out. A friend got me a ticket this year, and I just love this event. I love southwest Georgia and it’s one of the good things about our community. “
Bill Merchant was enjoying his first Empty Bowls after being talked into coming by his wife, Cyndi. The Leary couple said they were having a blast going through the bowls created by local artisans. Finally they found a matching couple.
“She (Cyndi) told me about it and it sounded like a good idea,” Bill Merchant said. “They do a really good job with it; we’re having fun.”
Unique fundraising bowls were designed and created by local artisans, while a number of area restaurants supplied soups and other goodies to fill the bowls.