“We had our first [Empty Bowls] event last September and we raised over $6,500 and 100 percent of that went to the BackPack Buddies program,” White Elementary School art teacher and Empty Bowls contributor Jayme Laney said, adding the event sold about 300 tickets. “We even had people from Rome last year who pitched in to help.”
According to a presentation created by Laney on www.prezi.com, the success of last year’s event paid for about 36 students to receive weekend meals throughout the year.
The BackPack Buddies program operates by having churches, Parent Teacher Organizations and community groups each week deliver donated food items to a school in their community based on the BackPack Buddies menu. The items should provide for two breakfast meals, two lunch meals, three dinner meals and two snacks, which could include Ramen noodles, fruit snacks and beanie-weenies.
Bartow County Homeless Liaison Kelly Whitmire said the menu is a suggestion derived from the national campaign and can be tweaked within the nutritional guidelines, costing about $5 to $7 a child for the weekend.
For the county, the individual schools will place the items in donated backpacks and students identified as being in need of additional nutrition can take the backpacks home with them on Friday and return them on Monday. The Church at the Well packs the bags for the city.
Laney compared the Empty Bowls event to the popular Taste of Cartersville, but based on items like soup and chilli.
“We had about 10 [local restaurants] last year who donated five gallons [of soup or chilli],” Laney said. “... These restaurants get to come out and showcase what they have.”
The handcrafted bowls are not only being made by Laney, but by local high school students and other potters as well.
“I’ve been enjoying seeing people give and I think the payoff for me is I get to see the kids at my particular school smile as they get their meals for the weekend,” Laney said.
For more information and tickets, contact Laney at WES, 770-606-5869. Tickets also can be purchased from Spring Place Pottery, 15 E. Main St., Cartersville, and from Whitmire, 770-606-5800, extension 5326, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.