Hundreds served as part of Good Samaritans Ministries’ biggest fundraiser

Brown County residents filled their bellies while fighting hunger Thursday as part of the 10th annual Empty Bowls.

Regarded as Good Samaritan Ministries’ largest annual fundraiser, hundreds converged at the Brownwood Coliseum to support the organization responsible to being a stopgap for hunger across Brown County.

“I’m really excited. The weather cooperated and we’ve been getting the word out for several weeks,” Good Samaritan Ministries Executive Director Leesa Stephens said. “… I tell everyone ‘this shows the community understands what we’re doing and why we’re doing this. We’re really happy to see the turnout.”

Thursday capped off months of preparation beginning in January when the organization began painting bowls handed out to each of those supporting the event Thursday. Area businesses such as Spirit of Texas Winery hosted bowl painting parties and Kohler donated its kiln to provide a permanent glaze to each of the bowls. Stephens said Empty Bowls would not be possible without the support of area businesses.

“We always pray God will grant us favor in an event like this,” Stephens said. “We have more than 100 gallons of soup and 1,300 bowls so there is plenty of room at the table. The only other fundraiser we do is a Christmas in July push to raise money for the Christmas boxes we pass out in December. The community has been so supportive of Empty Bowls. They really help us because we’re completely locally funded. We don’t receive any government grants of any kind.”

One organization throwing its full support behind Empty Bowls this year was Howard Payne University, which had many students and staff assisting with the event. Jordan Barrs, a student at HPU, said he heard about the event through Lynn Humeniuk, director of HPU’s Criminal Justice Program.

“I just wanted to be able to give back and community services is a great way to help those that are less fortunate. Those who are more fortunate than others really should give back. It’s something God placed on my heart – just to come and help,” Barrs said. “… [Humeniuk] put it out there for us to volunteer and I took advantage of it. I was the first one on the list when they put up the signup sheet. I got some of my other friends to sign up as well. It feels great to give back. My dad went to school here in Brownwood and now I’m here and I just want to make a difference.”

Those who could not volunteer made their contributions to Good Samaritan Ministries in other ways. One way was simply through buying a bowl of soup. Bonnie Wall, who said she supported Good Samaritan Ministries since its inception, spent the morning with her family – spoon-feeding her granddaughter Coralea Mitchell cheeseburger soup provided by the U-team of United Supermarket.

“We support Good Samaritans. We give donations and this is just another way to do it,” Wall said. “I’m just really big on helping people. There are people who need help and we have the ability to do it so we need to do it.”