OVERFLOWING : Empty Bowls breaks record with latest fundraiser for Natchez Stewpot

Published 3:16 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The Empty Bowls fundraising event for the Natchez Stewpot on March 5 shattered previous records for most funds raised since the event started over two decades ago.

This year, the event which includes piping hot gumbo dished up in a handmade clay bowl or cup of the ticketholder’s choosing, raised $19,130.

Local potter Donna Jones said this breaks all past records for funds raised at the event, which has been known to be a quick sell-out, said.

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However, there are always more bowls than tickets sold at the event to allow more people to walk up and purchase a bowl or piece of pottery or make a donation.

Since it started in 2003, the Empty Bowls event is hosted in Natchez every two years to help raise funds for maintenance, repairs and other expenses at the Stewpot. However, potters internationally developed Empty Bowls to help communities feed the hungry and, since there are not many potters in one area, many across the country donated their pottery to the Natchez fundraiser to help the cause.

“Feeding the hungry is so important to so many people. Everyone made their bowls, glazed and fired them and mailed them at their own expense. We didn’t have to twist anybody’s arm for anything,” Jones said.

The event is held bi-annually to allow potters enough time to handmake the beautiful bowls displayed. At least 500 bowls were put on display altogether, the most the Natchez event has ever had at one time, Jones said.

As hundreds of people lined up Broadway Street for the fundraiser on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the Natchez Bluff, they were entertained by music on the gazebo.

This year, in addition to 350 tickets sold, 85 sponsors donated $125 or more to have their names put into a drawing for one of five beautiful handmade pieces to encourage a new generation of support for the event, Jones said.

“People were quite generous,” Stewpot Director Marcus Archer said. “Some made much larger donations. With food costs becoming so high, no one feels like they have too much money for food.”

For those who missed out and would like to contribute to Natchez Stewpot, donations can always be made at natchezstewpot.com.

The Stewpot is also always in need of volunteers, especially delivery drivers, Archer said.

For more information call (601) 442-9413 or email ntzstewpot@gmail.com.