November is just a few days away, and many of us are already planning for our Thanksgiving and Christmas festivities: turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie are on the menu, football fans are following their favorites, Hallmark movie loyalists are scheduling the recordings, and homemakers are dusting off the décor.
Meanwhile, as we abound in our blessings and prepare for the joy of the season ahead, we have neighbors right here in Fernandina Beach who are coping with food insecurity. In fact, more than 7,000 Nassau County residents are rarely confident that they will get enough to eat in the week ahead, and over 2,000 of these residents are children. If these statistics break your heart like they do mine, you’ll be pleased to learn about Barnabas and the hope it brings to our community.
Barnabas Center is Nassau County’s only comprehensive service center devoted to helping those in need to begin to thrive as healthy citizens. Barnabas believes every individual has an opportunity to lead a healthy and productive life, thereby strengthening our entire community.
To deliver on its mission, Barnabas operates a large food pantry, which distributes over 380,000 pounds of food annually, an amount equal to 318,515 meals! It also has a healthcare branch, which offers medical and dental services to those in need. But Barnabas can’t deliver these crucial services alone. It counts on the support of both its sponsors and the broader community, and one of their most important fundraisers of the year returns next month with their ninth annual Empty Bowls event.
An Empty Bowl is a symbol of hunger, and this event aims to raise awareness and funds to combat hunger in our community. The event is simple: one hour, a meal of soup, bread, and dessert, a message of hope, and the hallmark – a hand-painted bowl. “Potters and volunteers throughout the area glaze and paint ceramic bowls each year. Guests may select their favorite bowl as a keepsake and permanent reminder of the many bowls we still need to fill to provide nourishment to our neighbors who are struggling,” says Empty Bowls 2022 Chairperson Pamela Fox.
This year’s Empty Bowls luncheon is Friday, November 18 from noon to 1 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, and the Barnabas Team is thrilled to be back “in-person!” “After holding Empty Bowls as a drive-through event the past two years, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are excited to announce that we will be back in person for our 2022 event!” says Fox.
“The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and its service team has hauled tables, chairs, linens, silverware, and their delicious soups to the event since its inception—a heroic effort! Based on previous years’ successes, The Ritz-Carlton is offering us an even bigger venue that will seat 700 guests! This generous gift allows us to contain our costs and maximize our fundraising efforts to help others. We extend our deepest gratitude General Manager Greg Cook, and all the ladies and gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island!”
The 2022 guest speaker is Amelia Island inventor Mike Bowling, creator of the famous Pound Puppies. Bowling left an 18-year career with Ford Motor Company to follow his dream of creating toys. He will share his story and a message of hope, hard-work, and holding onto dreams. For more information on the event, tickets, and partnership with Barnabas, visit: barnabasnassau.org.
And, just in time for the holidays, checkout the Barnabas Empty Bowls online marketplace, where you can shop for some of the most beautifully hand-painted and professionally crafted bowls and art pieces at www.biddingowl.com/BarnabasCenter.