LUMBERTON — From its beginnings in the mid-1980s at the Trinity Episcopal Church, the Lumberton Christian Care Center has been a community affair, and its Empty Bowls fundraiser Sunday was no exception.
Local restaurants and caterers supplied soups and desserts, area potters supplied bowls, and volunteers like Dave Edmunds, Keke Williams and Jim Tripp supplied the labor.
Edmunds, who is president of the board of directors for the soup kitchen and homeless shelter, summed it up while he greeted the several hundred attendees.
“After I retired from the hospital, I started volunteering here, and then they asked me to join the board,” Edmunds said. “I’ve learned a lot about the generous people in this community.”
Williams, a senior at Lumberton Senior High School, served desserts at the event.
“I heard about Empty Bowls when I was working here Friday,” she said. “I volunteer from the high school through the Beta Club National Honor Society.”
Friday was one of several “white nights” at the shelter, said Clementine Thompson-McCormick, director of the Christian Care Center.
“We have 20 beds, but when it gets really cold, put out extra cots and open the doors with no questions asked,” Thompson-McCormick said. “Our goal is to keep people safe.”
The annual Empty Bowls is the center’s only fundraiser, and Sunday was its fourth annual event. For $15 participants could eat soup and take home a handmade bowl.
The center, located at 202 E. Second St., served more than 30,000 meals in 2019 and has an annual budget of about $140,000.
Jim Tripp, a retired pharmacist and practicing potter, has made bowls for Empty Bowls for three of its four years.
“I volunteered at this event in Cumberland County, and when they started it here, I joined,” Tripp said. “I try to get every potter in the county to contribute.”
Tripp, who taught pottery for many years at Robeson Community College, apparently knows every potter in Robeson County and called in his IOUs. Seventeen potters responded and were listed on a poster.
Donations of soup, desserts and art for a silent auction also came from local restaurants, caterers and artists. Hungry supporters arrived in waves after Sunday church services and filled the center’s main hall.
The Christian Care Center won’t know how successful Empty Bowls was until it tallies the proceeds. The director knows it won’t be enough to match the needs.
“I don’t know the number yet, but I know we always need more money,” Thompson-McCormick said.
Katie and Dixon Davis pick out bowls to go Sunday at the Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Lumberton Christian Care Center. Seventeen area potters contributed bowls to the event, which drew about 200 diner-donors.
Keke Williams, a senior at Lumberton High School, was one of many volunteers Sunday at the Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Lumberton Christian Care Center. The desserts, pictured here, and soups were contributed by local restaurants and caterers.