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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 6 years ago

Happy Thanksgiving! Empty Bowls donates turkey dinners to residents


The sixth-annual Empty Bowls giveaway donated 800 turkeys this year. The community dinner is set for Dec. 6, at Mainland High School.


A line of people waited patiently Friday morning at the Halifax Urban Ministries office, 54 S. Ridgewood Ave., for a truck with 150 turkeys. After its arrival, one hour later than the scheduled 9 a.m. time, volunteers handed out not only turkeys but also a package with “all the fixings,” stuffing, green beans, yams, cranberry sauce and deserts.

Arlene Martin, volunteer for HUM, said the people waiting did not complain about the late arrival.

“We are blessed to have a good group of people in Ormond Beach,” she said. “They are thankful.”

This was the first Thanksgiving giveaway at this location. Until the end of last year, the Ormond Beach headquarters for the organization was on West Granada Boulevard.

The holiday charity event is a 10-year tradition.

“There are a lot of families,” Martin said. “There are quite a few seniors and many are alone.”

She said they will give away during the Christmas season, as well, and, this year, also hope to provide a holiday meal.

Residents registered with the ministry signed up for the turkeys. The only requirement was that they live in the area.

“It’s a way to prevent homelessness,” said Mark Geallis, director of community relations and development. “They can spend their money on rent instead of food.”

Also waiting that morning for the turkeys was Raymond Bell, 61, who has been volunteering at the Ormond location for 10 years, the same amount of time as Martin.

Retired from Florida Hospital, Bell volunteers five days a week.

“He rides his bicycle here every day,” Martin said. “He’s faithful. Everybody knows Raymond. Everybody loves Raymond.”

“It makes me feel good,” he said. “I love the elderly people. I love helping everybody, but the children and the seniors get next to me.”

Another local volunteer is Linda Reber, of Ormond Beach.

“I get more of a blessing than the people I help,” she said. “After I retired from nursing, I missed the people contact. You give them a smile and some encouragement. It’s worth it.”

She and her husband picked up donated bread at grocery stores for 17 years and delivered them to HUM before he became disabled last year.

Geallis said 800 turkeys were set to be given away from Oak Hill north to Ormond Beach, including the other Ormond location at St. James Episcopal Church. In previous years, he added, a foundation provided the funds, but it has since moved from the area.

“Until three or four weeks ago, we didn’t know if we would have turkeys,” he said. Salty Church, at 221 Vining Court, and four individuals donated funds to make it possible this year, he said.

Fill your bowl

The sixth-annual Empty Bowls Event, to raise money for homelessness prevention, is set for Dec. 6 at Mainland High School.

There will be a silent auction 5:30-7 p.m. and dinner 6-8 p.m. Geallis said 1,000 residents are expected to enjoy entertainment and a meal of soup, salad, bread and dessert donated by local restaurants and served in bowls handmade by local art students and teachers. The meals are served by culinary students at the high school.

Marcia Bobbitt, head of the art department at Mainland, who started the event, said many of the same people come every year to collect the bowls.

“I’ve had people tell me it’s the start of their holiday season,” she said.

Fifteen schools are taking part in making bowls for the event, including Pathways Elementary School and Ormond Beach Middle.

The Silent auction will feature works by local and national artists, including paintings, pottery, photography, woodcarvings and prints.

“We reach out to the community for donations,” Geallis said.

This year, he was also able to obtain several autographed collectibles, such as autographed guitars from Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, an autographed Michael Jackson album and a trip for two to the Super Bowl. There will be minimum bids: The minimum for the Rolling Stones guitar will be $1,900.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or at Mainland High School; Jennings Insurance Office, 109 Magnolia St., in New Smyrna Beach; and Halifax Urban Ministries. They are also available online, at

“They get caught up in it,” Bobbit said of how her students have responded to the event. “About six students who have graduated have come back and worked as volunteers.”

She said on the grade school level, students form the bowls and they are glazed and fired with the help of parents, teachers or art students. And every year, the event has improved. The first year, it collected $5,600; last year, $18,500 was donated.

“It’s amazing how focused (students) are on helping,” Bobbit said. “They unload and load the kiln. They organize and count the bowls. It’s amazing how much they do.”

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