Ponoka Family and Community Support Services’ (FCSS) first full, in-person Empty Bowls event since 2019 was a success thanks to community support.
FCSS program coordinator Shelly Van Eaton said she saw people with tears in their eyes, just sitting and talking with each other.
“People are still, so, so thankful to be back,” said Van Eaton.
Held Sept. 27 at the Ponoka Legion, Empty Bowls collected thousands of dollars to combat food insecurity in Ponoka, said Van Eaton.
The event began with an interagency meeting that included organizations that hadn’t collaborated for a couple of years.
“It was a very successful meeting of new resources and traditional resources coming back together,” said Van Eaton.
At Empty Bowls, participants buy a locally made pottery bowl for $20 and enjoy soup donated by a local business. The idea is that when people reach into their cupboards for their bowl, they will be reminded of those who struggle to fill their bowls.
A total of 187 people signed in for the event, with some companies sending all their employees and paying for their bowls.
The members of the Ponoka Potters Guild made 274 bowls for the event.
Soup was donated by the Bird Drug Co., Subway, Boston Pizza, Longhorn Saloon and Grill, The Pony Express and The Hitchin’ Post Bar and Grill. The Raspberry Patch and Ponoka Physiotherapy teamed up to provide soup as well.
Buns were donated by Trinity Lutheran Church and the coffee was provided by McDonald’s.
Bob Ronnie Catering provided trays of almond roca.
The Ponoka Ag Society and Alberta Health Services (AHS) donated bottles of water.
The event was made possible with the help of eight volunteers.
Van Eaton noted that the late Bob Hepp used to take care of a lot of the set up and details of the event and his absence was felt this year.
“He’s dearly missed,” said Van Eaton.
Community organizations that had tables at the event include FCSS, the hospice committee, Youth Unlimited, Family Resource Network, Community Legal Clinic, Campus Alberta Central, Ponoka and Rimbey Adult Learning, AHS, BGC Wolf Creek, BBBS Ponoka, the Festival of Trees and the Camrose Women’s Shelter.