PJC and Manna help feed the community for the holidays

Home Features PJC and Manna help feed the community for the holidays
PJC and Manna help feed the community for the holidays

The Corsair

On Friday, Nov. 13, PJC and our local Manna food bank came together to host the third annual Throw a Bowl for Manna event, held in the Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Arts. This event had a wonderful turn out and the promise of an equally excellent turn out for Manna’s companion event, Fill a Bowl for Manna, which will be held in Jan.

According to Timothy H. Evans, executive director for Manna Food Pantries, people were able to “walk into the clay room and try their hand at pottery, enjoy the art, and get a little information about what Manna does in the community.”

Richard Rodriguez - The Corsair
Richard Rodriguez - The Corsair

Manna Food Pantries began in 1983 due to the extensive need to fight hunger in our community, and make sure that no mouth was left unfed. Manna’s work is done through collaboration between employees and volunteers. They annually distribute over 600,000 pounds of groceries to local families and individuals in need.

Throw a Bowl for Manna, which began in 2006, is one of the great ways people can get involved with supporting our local community.

Lori Ripps, on the board of directors for Manna, and chairing Throw a Bowl for the second year, said, “We started this event three years ago in honor of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of Manna Pantries. We wanted to have an event that brought in the community to see what Manna stands for and to help Manna out.”

During Throw a Bowl for Manna, people had the opportunity to throw a bowl at the potter’s wheel assisted by PJC art faculty such as Bill Clover and many art students.  Anyone who wanted to try pottery, whether for the first or hundredth time, was more than welcomed to do so.

Wanda Boyels visiting from Weatherford, Texas, threw a bowl for the very first time.

“Two of my friends that live here that work with many community events told me about this and asked if I would like to go, and I said ‘ok lets go’ I am totally new to this, but I have had some great assistance this evening,” Boyels said.

After the bowls were shaped it was time for the art faculty and students to take over.

“The bowls are wet tonight. They will be numbered, and labeled with the artists or novices name and phone number. Each creator of their bowl will get to pick out a glaze color tonight and then those bowls will be glazed and fired by the art faculty and students,” Ripps said.

Throw a Bowl for Manna is not only good for the individuals involved, but also for PJC.

“This event is good for the junior college by bringing in people to their art facility and really boosting their reputation, and it’s also good for Manna because it gives us an opportunity to get in front of people to remind them how we need their help at the beginning of this season of generosity. It’s a win-win situation for both organizations,” Evans said.

The PJC Jazz Ensemble was center stage at Throw a Bowl for Manna, and provided some great entertainment for the guests at the event.

“It has been really nice having the Jazz band play in one of the halls here, and it gives an opportunity for the community to see the quality of instruction offered by PJC. After our first Throw a Bowl event, many of the caterers heard the PJC Jazz Ensemble and thought ‘gee this is a real band and these kids can really play.’ Out of that they have booked a few shows on the beach,” Evans said.

A companion event to Throw a Bowl called Fill a Bowl for Manna will be held in Jan.

“Each person who made a bowl at Throw a Bowl for Manna will get a phone call about a week before the event in Jan., and after paying the $25 admission will get their finished bowl back. Even if they hadn’t made a bowl they can come to Fill a Bowl and purchase a bowl with the $25 admission fee,” Ripps said.

At Fill a Bowl for Manna, people will get to walk around, taste soups, enjoy a silent auction, and hear music performed by St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Gospel Choir.

“At Fill a Bowl for Manna, we invite people to come down to Manna Food Pantries and for $25 they will get their bowl returned to them from Throw a Bowl and they will get to taste a large assortment of soups from twelve different restaurants, each providing a signature soup. In Jan., soup is just right and after paying $25 they can fill their bowl with as many soups as much as they want,” Evans said.

Many bowls will be created before Fill a Bowl for Manna in Jan.

“Generally at Throw a Bowl we produce about 100 bowls, and then the PJC arts faculty and students make another 300 to 400 bowls between now and Jan. Fill a Bowl usually has between 400 and 500 people, so we go through a lot of bowls,” Evans said.

These two companion events generate a lot of donations for Manna. Throw a Bowl, which is donations only, raised around $1500 in donations last year and Fill a Bowl, which is both donations and admission, raised over $18,000.

The greatest part about raising all of this money is that all of it goes directly to Manna’s cause of feeding the hungry. 

“Every bit of the money goes to Manna Food Bank feeding the hungry. None of it goes towards food expenses or operational funds,” Ripps said.

Manna cannot meet the local hunger needs on their own.

“We have had so much more demand this year, keeping pace with the local hunger needs has been very difficult so we need donations now more than ever,” Matthew Hoffman, president of Manna Food Pantries said.

The number of people in need of food is greater during the holiday season, but number of donations is usually greater as well.

“It’s worse in the Christmas season, but fortunately during this time people tend to make donations. A lot of people give donations in honor of people,” Ripps said.

People have many reasons for donating during the holidays.

“I think it’s important to make sure everyone has a good holiday season and everyone gets to enjoy the holiday season and traditions,” Kristen Carrol, PJC duel-enrollment student, said.

Manna Food Banks will also be hosting an event during the Thanksgiving holiday called Fill the Mayflower.

“Fill the Mayflower will be at Cordova Mall in front of World Market, and we will probably have Cat Country do a radio spot. There will be large Mayflower moving trucks, donated by one of the local Mayflower Moving Companies, and we will be trying to fill up as many of those as we can. We will accept money and food donations,” Hoffman said.

This event will be from 7-8 am Nov. 23-24, and 7-12 am Nov. 25.

“Just look for the big truck on the corner,” Hoffman said.

Phi Theta Kappa, Theta Chi Chapter, an honor society on the PJC campus, is also working to help Manna.  PTK is holding a food drive on the Pensacola campus until Dec. 1 to help Manna during the holiday season.  Students and faculty can get involved by donating food to the bins located in buildings 4, 6, 14, and 17.

Evans well sums up one of the most important aspects of all of the Manna events.

“The thing is, we can’t afford a generation gap in our community. We work a tremendous amount with people who are retired because most of their days are free. It’s important however, for students to start developing the habit of volunteerism. When retired people move beyond their capacity to help there has to be another cohort of people to move right into their place. The more we can get the generation that are now students to develop the habit of giving back, the better it will be for everyone. There are benefits to giving back, and you will never know that until you give,” Evans said.

If you would like to know more about Manna Food Pantries, want information on Fill a Bowl for Manna, or wish to get involved with helping them out, call 432-2053, or go to mannafoodpantries.org.

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