Residents enjoy a filling meal

MARIETTA – More than 400 area residents enjoyed a filling meal of soup and bread and walked out with a one-of-a-kind handmade bowl Saturday during Empty Bowls 2014 at First Congregational Church on Front Street.

“It a great event that brings three area churches and the community together for a common goal,” said volunteer Stassa Phillips, of Marietta.

While First Congregational church hosted this year’s luncheon, which ran from 11 a.m. to 1 p. m. Saturday, other churches involved are St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 320 Second St., and First Unitarian Universalist Church, 232 Third St.

“We started this about 13 years ago as an event for the outreach committee of the Unitarian Church and it has just continued to grow,” said Caroline Putnam, event coordinator.

This year’s luncheon not only included the three churches, but also students from Harmar Elementary School in Marietta, Frontier Middle and High schools, Parkersburg High School and West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

“This has been a real community event,” Putnam said.

New this year was also wooden bowls provided by Codger Lodge in Lubeck, W.Va.

Empty Bowls is a project that aims to feed the hungry and was originally started by potters who were members of the Unitarian Church. All donations from the luncheon will go to food pantries throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley as it has now become an area event, said Putnam.

“Because people from around the valley contributed to the event, we will split the money among many,” she said.

Those who attended the luncheon could pay $5 for lunch or $10 for lunch and a handmade food-safe bowl to take home.

It was unknown Saturday how much money was raised, but Putnam said she and other event organizers expect it to be more than the $3,000 the event traditionally raises.

“With as many people as we saw come in and have soup, I will not be surprised to find out we collected more than last year,” she said.

Locally made bowls that were gifts from potters highlighted the event. The artists included Henry Aglio, Julie Brewer and Harmar Elementary School fifth graders, Margaret Lazer, Melissa Rohrer, Sandra Gekosky, Zach Orcutt and West Virginia University at Parkersburg students, Joyce Tharp and Frontier High and Middle School students, and Jonathan Walsh and Parkersburg High School students.

Restaurants that participated in this year’s Empty Bowls were: Blacksmith Barbeque, Buckley House, Daydreams Cafe, The Galley, House of Wines, Lafayette Hotel and Gunroom Restaurant, Levee House Cafe, Marietta Brewing Company, Parkhurst Marietta College Catering, Panera Bread, Thrive Cafe, Shoney’s in Marietta, Third Street Deli, Tiber Way Grill, Tim Horton’s in Marietta and the three sponsoring churches.