VALDOSTA – Thousands of meals will be provided to residents in the community thanks to the local arts center's annual Empty Bowls fundraiser.

During a gallery opening Monday, the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts donated $2,200 to Second Harvest of South Georgia.

For the bi-annual fundraiser, 220 bowls were made this year; 10 of which were crafted by Valwood School students, according to center staff. The others were made by pottery instructor Julie Smith and her students. 

Cory Hansen, Second Harvest vice president of finance, said the funding will supply slightly more than 17,000 meals.

"I love it when the community helps the community and this is a tremendous help to us when we can distribute," he said. "For every dollar we get, we can provide 8.7 meals to families in need, so this goes a long way to getting food to hungry families."

The concept of Empty Bowls began at a university and is now a nonprofit organization, Bill Shenton, center art curator, has said in the past. It initially included a photography display that highlighted hunger.

Hansen said Empty Bowls is a "consistent source of donation" that factors into Second Harvest being able to continue its efforts.

With one organization assisting another, he said people are able to notice the good that can be done in the community.

During the arts reception, which showcased three new solo exhibits, writer Trent Busch also held a book signing for two of his poetry collections.

He is professor emeritus at Valdosta State University, having taught American literature and modern poetry at the college for 30 years.

Busch said his poetry is personal.

“I feel poetry is another form of art that ties us in to being human, and poetry is, to me, the all-time art in writing,” he said. “It’s the one that’s the hardest to do and it’s the one that gets us to (the) center of things and makes us deal with what we are and who we are. … Poetry, to me, is the supreme art.”

The subject of “Plumb Level and Square” is Busch’s workshop, where he spent about 30 years building furniture, including furniture for his granddaughter.

Busch said he was in the business for the enjoyment more than the money.

“The poems come out of that relationship,” he said.

“West Virginians” is Busch’s third body of work and reflects his home state.

“All of the poems in the book have to do with the people that live in West Virginia, the mountain culture and the culture that I experienced since I grew up there,” he said. “The poems, of course, entail my love for that state as my home-place.”

Busch's writing is on Amazon.

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