The Brownwood Coliseum lobby seemed at full capacity Thursday by the time volunteers opened the doors for the ninth annual Good Samaritan Empty Bowls Project.
Lines of people nearly wrapped the coliseum floor as patrons of this year’s event picked a hand-crafted bowl and sampled more than eight soups from restaurants and volunteers from throughout the area.
“People want to serve and people want to give and you want to give to something you trust,” Good Samaritan Board President David Williams said. “Good Samaritan Ministries is a ministry people trust. They are going to support that. It brings the community together. You walk around and see people you haven’t seen since last year, but you know them … We’re all one big family here in Brownwood even though we’re a larger community of 20,000. We’re still all family here and want to help each other.”
Williams said the Empty Bowls Project is Good Samaritan Ministries’ largest fundraiser. GSM uses 90 percent of the funds raised at the event to battle area hunger and donates 10 percent of the proceeds to its international hunger ministry. He added the amount of community participation made Empty Bowls an annual tradition despite entering only its ninth iteration.
“A lot of volunteers, a lot of people step up and really support this ministry,” Williams said. “We feed those that are hungry to the tune of 800 to 1,000 families a month on average. Rarely, we feed less than 800 families a month … We appreciate the people who support this through the donation of their soups, their labor and volunteering. We’re so grateful.”
Volunteers including area high school and middle school students, nursing home residents as well as Howard Payne University and TSTC students painted the bowls, which patrons impatiently ogled looking for the perfect bowl to add to his or her collection.
Pat Singletary, a first time patron, dug into a plastic bag to reveal a royal purple and white bowl.
“I needed a good soup bowl for soup at home. I found it,” Singletary said. “I like purple. I already went down one side and when I went down the other and saw this one I knew this was the one I was looking for. I just found the bowl that spoke to me.”