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Why I Volunteer At Empty Bowls by Sarah Stitzel

I’ve been a part of Second Harvest’s Empty Bowls fundraiser in one way or another for the past seven years. First as a guest, then as a volunteer, then a planning committee member and now volunteer chair.

My initial involvement came because a friend invited me along, and who doesn’t love a good cause and some pretty pottery as a bonus? But I got so much more from that first Empty Bowls event – I not only learned about a real need in our community to help people who are food insecure, but I also found an amazing community of volunteers, sponsors, and food bank staff and board members who were passionate about something that effects so many people every single day, both locally and globally.

A unique bowl that Sarah selected at Empty Bowls, shown here in her house.

I spent an hour of my day, and $25, but what I got in return was worth so much more than that: A real sense of not only how big the problem of food insecurity in our community is, but also the concrete knowledge that every individual person can make a real difference by coming together to help in whatever way they can.

So the next year, I signed up to volunteer at Empty Bowls I spent an hour and a half helping out at the silent auction. And the year after that, I spent 3 hours helping guests find empty seats and clearing tables. What I saw as a volunteer was just a small glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action; all the people and hours of planning and prep and hard work that goes into making an event like Empty Bowls happen. And since time and hard work were two things I knew I had to spare, the next year I joined the planning committee – and the rest is history.

Empty Bowls, on the surface, is about pottery and art and auction items and soup and salad – but what it’s really about is a community coming together to help those who need it most.

It’s about raising not just money for a cause, but also about raising awareness of that cause and all the ways individuals can help every other day of the year, not just the 3rd Wednesday in April.

My hope is that if even a few of the people who walk through those doors and choose a bowl have an experience that will lead them to volunteer their time, or join a committee, or make a donation, or fill a backpack, then that’s what Empty Bowls is about.

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Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC

3655 Reed St. 

Winston-Salem, NC 27107

Tel: 336-784-5770

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