2019 Bowls of Hope Said to Have Been the ‘Best Ever’

Great weather, a new configuration of seating and traffic flow both inside and outside Willow Creek Falls, an increased number of soup stations, and an orientation to prepare volunteers all combined to make the 2019 Bowls of Hope Feed Fannin’s most successful and satisfying fundraiser to date.

The April 27th event, which dished out a large variety of delicious soups, breads, desserts, and beverages donated by more than 50 area restaurants, chefs, and individuals, raised well over $30,000 that Feed Fannin will use to support the Fannin County Family Connection’s Food Pantry. The silent auction alone raised more than $9,500, and a new 50/50 raffle amassed $1,400 in cash.

“Our goal is clearly to raise money,” said Feed Fannin Chair John Sugg, “but, just as importantly, it is about people helping people, neighbors helping neighbors in the long tradition of this community. People opened their wallets and their hearts, and we are so grateful for their support in helping to feed those in need.”

Hundreds of people turned out to support Feed Fannin’s mission of annually providing thousands of pounds of produce from our community garden and tens of thousands of dollars of purchased food to fill the food pantry’s shelves. As in past years’ fundraisers, they each took home beautifully handcrafted bowls made by local potters.

Close to 100 eager volunteers rallied to run the event smooth- ly, doing everything from greeting and serving food to the public to running the silent auction and 50/50 cash raffle, washing pots and pans in the kitchen, directing traffic, taking tickets, and wrapping up the pottery bowls for participants to take home.

The Bowls of Hope Committee made significant changes to improve this year’s event, including:

  • Renting a large tent to accommodate outdoor seating and entertainment, freeing up space inside
  • Offering additional soup stations and creating more floor space by clearing the food room of tables for diners, which helped prevent congestion in this busy area
  • Having uniformed off-duty law-enforcement officers direct ticket holders to park in a larger, more accessible parking lot and take shuttles to and from the venue, rather than clogging up the narrow two-lane road to Willow Creek Falls’ more limited parking and
  • Asking all Bowls of Hope volunteers, particularly new ones, to attend an orientation at Willow Creek Falls the day before the event to show them around, acquaint them with the event’s purpose and history, and meet with the supervisors and volunteers with which they would be working to go over their assigned tasks.

The result? “I had many people tell me that this was the best Bowls of Hope ever,” said former Feed Fannin Chair Connie Galloway. “And many of these folks have been coming to Bowls of Hope every year since we started doing this [in 2013].”

Sen. David Ralston, Georgia Speaker of the House and District 7 representative, was in attendance, as he has been for many previous Feed Fannin fundraisers. According to Sugg, Ralston remarked, “I wish the General Assembly was as organized as this.”

Bowls of Hope Co-Chair Carol Martel said the event was “a huge team effort” and thanked all the volunteers involved for their hard work. “It was a beautiful event and one that everyone who volunteered can really be proud of.”

“Our 2019 volunteers were exceptional, and not just the experienced ones who’ve helped us year after year, but the new volunteers as well. They were committed to the success of the event,” said Sandee Gorham, who co-chaired organizing the volunteers along with Chris Martinez.

Already, initial plans are being made for next year’s fundraiser, and organizers hope to return to scheduling Bowls of Hope in mid-to-late March, when it has traditionally been held.

Submitted by Diane Payne