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Event raises $11K for Stewpot; Residents fill up, give back at Empty Bowls

Reene Slover, 3, helps select a bowl for her dad Scott Slover during the Empty Bowl fundraiser for the Natchez Stewpot Sunday. Ticket holders selected a handmade bowl that was filled with delicious gumbo. After lunch, residents took their bowls home as a reminder of the event. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Reene Slover, 3, helps select a bowl for her dad Scott Slover during the Empty Bowl fundraiser for the Natchez Stewpot Sunday. Ticket holders selected a handmade bowl that was filled with delicious gumbo. After lunch, residents took their bowls home as a reminder of the event. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ Empty bowls were filled Sunday to support a great cause — the Natchez Stewpot.

Empty Bowls is a Natchez Clay studio fundraising event for the Stewpot where local potters use their creative wits to make and donate hundreds of handmade bowls of all shapes, sizes and colors.

This year, 300 bowls were made and donated to the event, raising approximately $11,000 for the Stewpot.

“Empty Bowls is a thing that potters from all over the country participate in,” said Empty Bowls chairperson Amanda Jeansonne. “Some of the bowls are made here, while others are donated to us.”

Miss-Lou residents donated $25 to pick a bowl of their choosing and have it filled with hot gumbo made by area residents and contributions from the Stewpot.

“We work on the bowls all year and the idea of Empty Bowls is that it’s a simple meal to help us all remember that there are hungry people without a full bowl,” Jeansonne said.

The great thing about Empty Bowls, Jeansonne said, is that all bowls and materials are donated.

“We don’t really have to spend money to make this event so all of the money goes directly to the Stewpot,” Jeansonne said.

This is Natchez Clay’s sixth Empty Bowls event, an event that began in 2004 and is hosted every other year.

But new Natchez Clay owners Patricia Gaudé and Sarah Meriwether are looking to make Empty Bowls into a yearly event.

Gaudé and Meriwether said helping with the event is not a tough task.

“I think it’s really special to help the Stewpot,” Meriwether said. “It’s easy for us because making pottery is what we like to do.”

Gaudé said Natchez Clay received bowls from eight individuals around the country — including Canada.

“You are passing on your love for the arts to someone for a good cause,” Gaudé said.

Meriwether added that artists may not always have the money to give, but they have their love of art to help make a difference.

Local potter Robert Rasberry, who helps with the event every other year, said it’s a blessing to contribute to the Stewpot.

“We are service minded individuals anyhow through church,” Rasberry said. “To use our craft and give back to the Lord and the community is a great feeling.”