Carl Baughman can relate to the plight of children in need.
The Perry County man experienced it firsthand when he was a boy.
“My parents were divorced,” said Baughman, now of Landisburg. “When I was with my mother, we barely got fed. We might have had something on the table.”
He was among the 200 people who attended the 27th annual Empty Bowls event Monday night in Carlisle to benefit the Project SHARE food bank.
Participants paid $20 for the opportunity to select one of 300 handcrafted bowls made by local residents and artists. They then shared a meal of bread and either vegan vegetable or Mexican potato and tomato soup.
Every bowl was unique, a symbol that served as a reminder of the many empty bowls in the world.
For Baughman and his wife Royetta the event Monday was just another way for them to help the needy in the community.
The couple is part of the effort by the Newville Church of God and the Doubling Gap Church of God to provide food in reusable duffel bags to elementary school students from disadvantaged families in the Big Spring School District.
Called Paw Packs, the bags include enough food to carry that student and family members over the weekend when school lunch and breakfast programs are not available. Royetta Baughman is also a volunteer with Project SHARE.
“I got involved to help the kids,” Carl Baughman said. “I see families out there that need it.”
His wife said Project SHARE not only works to feed empty bellies, but to feed the needy spirit by letting the children and their families know there are people that care.
Seated nearby was Gracia Sampson who was attending her first Empty Bowls event at Dickinson College. Her husband Raymond had attended an Empty Bowls event in West Virginia years ago.
“People are so unaware that in our economy, as good as it is, there are people that go hungry,” the Boiling Springs woman said. “There are still children who are living in fear of when their next meal will be.”
As the retired executive director of the Cumberland County welfare office, she had worked with charities that provide services and families that needed help.
“Project SHARE does an amazing job,” Sampson said. “I support it financially. I support their mission.”
Meanwhile Gracie Payne was sharing a meal with family and friends including her mother Shelley Raker. It has been an annual tradition for the past five years for parent and child to participate in Empty Bowls in Carlisle. Both have served as volunteers in the interview room at Project SHARE where families are asked questions on whether they qualify for help.
“The bowls are something that someone created in the community to remind us of greater needs beyond ourselves,” Payne said. “That we can contribute and together meet one another’s needs more effectively. It is a beautiful symbol … a great thing to support not just Project SHARE but also the Carlisle Arts Learning Center.
“We are ecstatic about the level of support,” said Becky Richeson, the executive director of CALC, the nonprofit organization that arranged for the bowls for Monday’s event. She said more than 200 tickets were sold raising over $4,000 for the food bank. To benefit Project SHARE further, the unclaimed bowls were put up for sale.
“We are blessed,” said Bob Weed, chief executive officer of Project SHARE. “The symbolism is not lost on me at all. It was a simple meal … soup and bread … but for many in our community a simple meal of soup and bread may be all they have.”
“As we head into Easter, we are thinking about renewal,” Weed said. “It’s a time of renewal for us at Project SHARE. We have come out of November and December, our biggest distribution months, and we need to restock the pantry.”
Support is crucial this time of year because fresh fruits and vegetables are not available locally and have to be trucked in at added cost, Weed said. The money raised at Monday’s event will help the food bank leverage resources to make the availability of fresh produce to needy families more affordable.