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More than 300 fill up on Empty Bowls

Three-year-old Camp Blunschi tries to escape from the hands of James Shaidnagle with a bowl that he selected as his favorite from the Empty Bowls event behind the Natchez Clay pottery studio Sunday. (Ben Hillyer /The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Community Stewpot saw its proverbial bowls overflow with support Sunday as residents from all over the area came out to Natchez Clay to buy a bowl in support of the organization.

Empty Bowls is a charity that started in Michigan in the early 1990s to help end hunger. It made its way to Natchez in 2005.

Local artists crafted ceramic bowls, which lined tables outside the clay studio Sunday. Ticket-holders took their pick of a favorite bowl to be filled with homemade gumbo for $25. More than 300 bowls, each different in its own way, were available.

Empty Bowls Organizer Amanda Jeansonne said the project raises approximately $10,000 for the Stewpot every time they host the event.

“We do this every other year,” she said. “The community support is always amazing. We completely sold out this year. We had 300 tickets sold before the event started.”

Jeansonne said the bowls, the gumbo and even the tickets residents use for the event were donated to Empty Bowls, leaving all of the profit going toward the Stewpot.

“We get so much help from everyone in the area,” she said. “It is just a wonderful thing to be a part of.”

Jeansonne said it was first come, first served on bowl selection, and when the event started at 11 a.m., there were plenty of residents waiting to make their choice.

“There are so many to choose from, I just don’t know which one I’m going with yet,” Vidalia resident Karl Turner said.

Turner finally broke down and got a turquoise bowl and shortly after walked over to get his gumbo.

“I wish I was hungrier,” he said. “Then maybe I could have gotten two bowls. I like my choice, but there was another bowl I wanted.”

Natchez resident Betsy Holleman also purchased a bowl for the charity, and said the selection was always something she loved.

“I have bought a bowl from here several times and you can always expect them to be unique,” she said. “I just really like them.”

Holleman said while the bowls and gumbo are always a nice treat, helping the Stewpot is always the most important thing at the end of the day.

“You can never forget how good of a cause this is,” she said. “You get to help someone who really needs it.���

Turner said Empty Bowls is something he hopes to see continued in the Miss-Lou for a long time.

“Some people just get hit with hard times and the Stewpot is their to help them if they need it,” he said.

“You never know what life is going to throw at you, so you better help who you can, while you can. You never know when you might need their help too.”

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