Folks can once again enjoy meal and fellowship while taking home a handmade work of art.

The annual Empty Bowls event returns Nov. 15 to the Rome Civic Center and there’s a reason why it’s one of the more popular fall events.

“I think it’s because you’ve got all the elements that make us feel good,” said Lisa Smith, head of this year’s Empty Bowls committee. “Most importantly you’re giving to an organization that truly needs our help. Secondly there’s the art element to it. You’re getting a handmade, one-of-a-kind piece of art. And you’re sharing a meal with people from all over the community. It’s all the things we need right now. It’s the better side of all of us.”

Empty Bowls is an annual fundraiser and community event that offers folks a chance to enjoy a simple meal of soup and homemade bread in the company of other community members at the Rome Civic Center. Live music will be provided by the River Rascals and ticketholders leave with a beautiful handmade bowl by a local or area potter.

But while that’s already a wonderful evening, the real reason for the event is that it’s a fundraiser for a local nonprofit. This year’s recipient of all the event’s proceeds will be the Rome-Floyd County Community Kitchen.

The Kitchen supplies a daily nutritious meal for the unemployed, working poor, elderly, mentally- and/or physically-challenged, and the homeless in Rome and Floyd County.

The organization is a nonprofit operated solely by volunteers. Since opening in January 2009, volunteers have served over 100,000 meals, with an average of 150 meals being served daily.

The Community Kitchen is funded by donations from area churches, businesses, civic organizations, foundations, and individuals. It costs the Community Kitchen $1.00 to fund one meal served. That dollar amount not only covers the cost of food, but also helps keep the day-to-day operations going by paying rent and utilities for our facilities. They rely 100% on donations that go directly toward all that is involved in feeding those in need.

Aside from ticket sales and sales of Empty Bowls T-shirts, canned goods will be collected at the door for donation to the Kitchen.

Empty Bowls will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 15 at the Civic Center on Jackson Hill. The event is sit-down or drop in. Ticketholders can choose to enjoy their meals with other members of the community or they can simply drive through a pick up theirs to go.

One of the highlights of the event is that ticketholders get to take home a unique handmade bowl by a local or area potter. Smith said as always, dozens of talented potters have donated their time and skills to the event. Bowls are randomly assigned to ticket numbers, meaning guests don’t choose their bowls. It’s always a surprise for guests to see the shape and color of their new bowl.

“It does the potters’ hearts good to contribute to this event,” Smith said. “So it’s full circle. I can’t thank the potters enough for contributing their time and efforts and of course all the volunteers who organize the kitchen and set up and serve.”

Tickets are $25 until Nov. 8 when they’ll increase to $30 if available. They’re on sale at the Last Stop Gift Shop on Jackson Hill and are limited. Cash and checks only.

Smith encouraged those attending to bring canned goods to donate to the Community Kitchen if they can.

“It’s been a tough year,” she said. “If you’ve got canned goods at home that you can donate, those will be greatly appreciated. If there’s an organization that does an immense amount of good in our community it’s the Community Kitchen. They nourish those in need.”

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