Community members fight hunger with "Empty Bowls"

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BOWLING GREEN, KY, (WBKO) -- The fifth annual "Empty Bowls" event was held Thursday night to fight hunger in South Central Kentucky.

The goal was not only to bring awareness to the families struggling to put food on the table, but also proactively do something about it.

St. James United Methodist Church has sponsored the event since its inception, and every year they've seen the event grow.

"When I started this," says Garry Taylor of St. James, "I hoped that maybe ten years from then, we would have $5,000 raised, and we did that by the third year. This has just been a miracle I think."

Last year the event raised $15,000 for the Manna Mart Pantry. This year the money will be divided between the Manna Mart Pantry and Hotel Inc, and Life Care ministries.

"For us to be able to purchase more and more food for people who are really in need," says Bob Raby of Life Care Ministries, "it's just great to live in a community that responds this way. To see the people come out every single time, it just grows and grows, the word gets out and people respond. That's just Bowling Green."

The amount of people that Hotel Inc. has been able to help since this event started 5 years ago has grown, in part due to tonight's event.

"We track how many families use our Pantry Services," says Hotel Inc. Executive Director Rhondell Miller, "and over the past five years we've gone from serving about 85 households per month to close to 400 households per month."

Ceramic bowls, painted by members of the community, were given away for a ten dollar donation.

Over 900 bowls were painted for this year's event.

"It means so much to us that St. James United Methodist Church and Garry Taylor coordinate this event every year," says Rhondell Miller, "It's truly one of our largest community endeavors that happens here in Bowling Green. It's a blessing to be a part of it."

"It's so exciting whenever you see it," says Garry Taylor, "because everyone here, everyone who took the time to come out tonight is making a difference in someone's life. Every bowl that we sell provides enough food to feed an entire family. Everyone out here is literally changing lives in the community."

One anonymous donor offered up a $10,000 additional donation if last year's donation total of $15,000 was met.

The bowls brought home by those in attendance tonight are not only to serve as a nice addition to the kitchen, but also a reminder that every day other members of the community may be facing empty bowls at any given meal.

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