Event Has Charity By The Bowlful

EAST MANATEE | Friday, December 16, 2005

Playing the violin while people ate soup was Po-Yi Ho's way of taking part in the fight against hunger.

"It's kind of cool, and it makes me happy to help," said Po-Yi, one of four members of the Braden River Middle School String Quartet, which played for about 60 guests during the seventh Annual Empty Bowls Luncheon at the school Thursday.

"We've told the students about the Little Drummer Boy, who, though he had little to offer in the way of gifts, could offer his talent," said Betsy Gough, co-advisor of the Braden River Middle School chapter of the National Honor Society, which put on the luncheon in the school's multipurpose room.

Attended by invited parents, teachers and administrators, the luncheon raised about $550 for Our Daily Bread, a local food kitchen for the homeless and hungry, said Kathy Donaldson, co-advisor for the Honor Society.

Two kinds of soup, chicken noodle and vegetable, as well as many kinds of bread, were donated by the Atlanta Bread Co. on University Parkway, Gough said.

As the guests dined, they were entertained by Christmas songs played by Po-Yi and violinist Andrew Stevens, viola-player Tristan L'Heureux and cellist Hannah Morse.

The 56 Honor Society members donated cookies and cupcakes, started decorating the multipurpose room at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and served the guests with spirited hospitality.

The honors students also made bowls out of clay and fired them in the school's kiln. Though not suitable for holding soup, the bowls were filled with candy for the guests to take home.

"This was wonderful," said first-year Principal Randy Petrilla. "It's important for kids to give back to the community. That's how they learn citizenship." The officers of the Honor Society each gave fact-filled and emotional speeches about the plight of the hungry and homeless.

A child dies every five seconds in the world because of hunger-related causes, said Ashley Rain, secretary of the Braden River Middle School Honor Society.

Alycia Bower, Honor Society president, talked about the difference that each person can make in the world.

Honor Society historian Sarah Jurkowski reported that nearly half the world's population, 2.7 billion people, survive on an income of $2 a day.

Samantha Lindfors, Honors Society co-vice president with Jake Mullery, volunteers once a month at Resurrection House, making and serving sandwiches.

"It's amazing how much people appreciate two little sandwiches, two cookies and a banana," Lindfors said.

Jake had the crowd laughing when he told the story of how his Aunt Cathy gave the homeless the money she was going to spend on his Christmas present when he was 8.

"It made me mad then," Jake said. "Now, I understand and approve of what she did."

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