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Oxford University United Methodist Church Hosts Empty Bowls Project

Mayor Pat Patterson and volunteers serving citizens at the Empty Bowls Project.
Mayor Pat Patterson and volunteers serving citizens at the Empty Bowls Project.

The Oxford University United Methodist Church hosted the Empty Bowls luncheon today for the public to raise money to feed the hungry.

Empty Bowls Project, an international project to raise money and awareness to end hunger, started at Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1990. John Hartom, founder, and his wife, Lisa Blackburn, also a founder, saw much success in the event and knew the event should not end there. Ceramic students made the bowls and gained a lot from the service project.

“The project spread rapidly and is now underway across the U.S. and Canada and in at least 20 other countries. We learned just yesterday of an event in El Salvador,” Hartom said.

According to Hartom, many Empty Bowls events raise over $100,000 and some raise $200,000.

“One great story we were told was, ‘We called the local shelter and told them we had a check for $3,400 to give them. After a phase, the director said, ‘Now we can keep the shelter open,'” Hartom said. “So the amount of money is not nearly as important as the actual actions on the part of thousands of people on behalf of those in need of assistance in having enough to eat”

Ole Miss students and artists around Oxford make pottery bowls for the event. After purchasing and picking out a bowl, each person gets to choose from dozens of some of Oxford’s best restaurants to fill their bowl with soups or chili.

Sam Mitchell and Christopher Neal
Sam Mitchell and Christopher Neal

This year, some of the best restaurants included Delta Steak Company, who served their loaded potato; McEwen’s, who served Zuppa Toscana; Newk’s Eatery, who served their Hoppin’ John Soup; Oby’s, who served their Broccoli and Cheese. Even Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson got in on the cooking and served Granny Kimmons’ Seafood Chowder.

Volunteers from the Oxford area included two of HottyToddy.com’s writers, Sam Mitchell and Christopher Neal. According to Harton, the entire event is organized by the local people- even down to deciding which charity to give the money to (as long as it has to do with hunger).

“Everything you experienced was organized by the folks in Oxford,” Hartom said.

Guests were served rolls from several bakeries and stores around Oxford, and each table was adjourned with and Empty Bowl placemat.

The placemat read:

empty bowls 1

There is a story…about a man who left this earth and was taken on a tour of the inner realms. He was shown a room where he saw a large group of hungry people trying to eat dinner, but because the spoons that they were trying to eat with were longer than their arms, they remained frustrated.

“This,” his guide told him, “is hell.”

“That’s terrible!” exclaimed the man, “Please show me Heaven!”

“Very well,” agreed the guide, and on they went.


When they opened Heaven’s door, the man was perplexed to see what looked very much like the same scene: there was a large group of people with spoons longer than their arms. As he looked more closely, however, he saw happy faces and full tummies, for there was one important difference: the people had learned to feed each other.

For more information about the Empty Bowls Project, contact ouumc.org or emptybowls.net.

empty bowls 5

HottyToddy.com writer, Jeff McVay, and social media editor, Randall Haley
HottyToddy.com writer, Jeff McVay, and social media editor, Randall Haley

empty bowls 3

empty bowls 2

The HottyToddy.com team!
The HottyToddy.com team!

Emily Newton is a staff writer for hottytoddy.com and the editor of Experience Oxford magazine. She can be reached at emily.newton@hottytoddy.com.

Follow HottyToddy.com on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @hottytoddynews. Like its Facebook page: If You Love Oxford and Ole Miss…


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