In this weekly feature, we put five questions before someone in the community. Today, we chat with Ruth Willoughby, of Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission.

1. What is Empty Bowls?

Empty Bowls Project is a grassroots movement to help end hunger. Since being created by The Imagine Render Group, it has grown into an international movement raising awareness and money to help those in need.

2. When is the ninth annual Empty Bowls event?

The ninth annual Empty Bowls is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Joplin Empire Market, located at 931 E. Fourth St. in Joplin.

3. How does the event work?

Potters create hundreds of soup bowls that people can buy, and restaurants then donate soups to fill the bowls in a one-day serving blitz, and as a “thank you” for donating to local hunger relief, patrons are gifted a handmade bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised from the sale of the bowls goes to programs that help fill the stomachs of the hungry.

Locally, the program is coordinated by Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission, which took it over three years ago. Four local organizations, all privately funded, benefit from the proceeds of the event: We Care of the Four States, Hope Kitchen, Mission Joplin and Watered Gardens Ministries.

4. Where can the public purchase bowls?

The serving of soup will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at Empire Market. Bowls can be purchased for $25 — and for another $5, a cozie or potholder created by local service groups can be purchased. Soups of all varieties are being donated by over 20 restaurants, individuals and organizations.

5. What kind of impact has Empty Bowls had on the Joplin community?

When you support this event, you’re not only helping relieve area hunger, but you’re also acknowledging the benevolence of area potters, as well as restaurants. It’s a heck of a deal to pay only $25 for an original piece of pottery, while also buying a meal and contributing to reducing hunger.

Since the first Empty Bowls took place in Joplin in 2012, over $150,000 has been raised to provide local hunger relief to the receiving organizations.

Ruth Willoughby is the community outreach coordinator for Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission in Joplin.

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