Communication Builds Our Community

Empty Bowls Raises Nearly $20,000 for Care Center Programs

Annual Event is Source of Essential Program Funding

Lake Wales neediest families will be a good bit less so thanks to the generosity of the 300 guests who packed the Family Life Center of the First Presbyterian Church Tuesday evening for the annual Empty Bowls auction.

Care Center Executive Director Rob Quam told that the annual "Friendraiser" benefits the multiple food and family-service programs run by the non-profit center.

Four live-auction bowls offered to the public were sold for about $10,000.

"It's not because someone wants to buy a $3,000 bowl or plate, it's because they have it in mind to make a donation to the Care Center, and this is a fun way to do it," Quam said. Thirty area businesses contributed to sponsor the event. Guests also enjoyed free samples of soups donated by nine local restaurants.

The proceeds will help to fund four significant food programs for the hungry in Lake Wales. They include a food pantry which provides basic needs to nearly 90 families each week who come to the Care Center for assistance.

Caseworkers interview with the families to assess their current needs. Care Center also provides other tangible resources such as clothing, furniture, household items, and equipment, as well as financial help with rent or mortgage payments, utilities, medications, gas, and lodging.

Other programs include holiday assistance, Meals on Wheels, and transitional housing to help families stabilize under difficult circumstances.

Some 200 other ceramic bowls, plates, cups and ewers, all hand-painted by local volunteers before being glazed and fired, were also available in a "silent auction" that raised nearly $10,000 more, according to Quam.

The volunteer painters came from several area organizations including the Circle of Friends, the transitional housing residents, ESOL language classes, and the Refuge on the Ridge, a substance-abuse facility located in the former Chalet Suzanne, as well as the general public.

"These people aren't here to buy fine art," Quam said. "They're here to support the Care Center."

"The event has a really good vibe," Quam added, because guests come to "honor God, and walk out with a smile on their face."


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