Empty bowls feed hundreds
Barnabas Center recently held its sixth annual Empty Bowls luncheon Nov. 8, with nearly 500 guests in attendance.
An empty bowl is a symbol of hunger. In support of Nassau County residents coping with hunger and food insecurity, each year Barnabas hosts this simple meal of soup, bread and dessert donated by the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island and the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in an effort to raise funds to support Barnabas programs that help people in need.
Corporate and individual sponsors were critical to the financial success of this event. Presenting sponsors were Baptist Medical Center Nassau and The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, along with a grant from the Delores Barr Weaver Forever Event Fund. Platinum sponsors included the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, WestRock, Jack and Charlotte Roberts, David and Judy Easterly, Amelia Makery, Pickett Construction and two anonymous sponsors. Gold sponsors included Martex Landscape Management, Lisa Presnell Productions, Donna Lynne Custom Homes, Castleton Homes, JMV Industries, John and Debbie Baechle and William and Sheila Braddock. Silver, bronze, copper and bowl sponsors also made generous contributions.
First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach hosted the event with a program that included keynote speaker Tammy Johnson, Barnabas board member and principal of Hilliard Middle-Senior High School, as well as a performance by Hupp and Ray. An important event challenge grant was announced and gave the Empty Bowls event attendees the chance to match a $20,000 anonymous gift. The challenge exceeded the anonymous match sponsorship, reaching $48,774. To top it off, Barnabas received a generous surprise gift from Publix Super Markets. Dwaine Stevens, Publix Community Affairs Manager, presented $10,000 at the luncheon.
Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise and Lisa Presnell Productions played an integral part in setting up and supervising the event. Community members hand-painted nearly 700 bowls. The University of North Florida and Jacksonville University donated hand-crafted pottery bowls. Event emcee was Lewis Turner, news anchor with First Coast News, and event committee members included event chair Donna Sweet and Kathi Donegan, Pam Fox, Robin Jones, Lisa Presnell, Mary Anne Sharer and Annie Sparkle.