When local artist Michael Terra helped bring the Empty Bowls project to Paducah in 2009 he had no idea how much impact it would have on feeding local citizens. The project has raised almost $200,000 in the past years and event coordinators hope to raise another $20,000 in 2019. Empty Bowls 2019 will be held on Saturday, February 23, from 11:30 am – 2 pm at the Julian Carroll Convention Center in Paducah.

While the charitable lunch lasts a mere two-and-a-half hours, the time it takes to prepare for the February event is much more significant. Terra coordinates efforts with the Paducah School of Art and Design and invites volunteers - including community residents, local artists and school children - to throw and glaze nearly 1,700 ceramic bowls. They use facilities at Terra Cottage Ceramics, (Terra’s art studio,) and PSAD’s Ceramic Studio.

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Empty Bowls participants are invited to choose a handmade bowl which they use during the lunch. Then they take it home as a commemorative gift from the event.

“Coordinating this event is always awe-inspiring to me, as so many of our neighbors gather to support the most fragile members of our community,” Terra told me. “When it all comes together and I stand in that room filled with such laughter and joy, I am simply humbled and overwhelmed by Paducah’s generosity.”

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In addition to the volunteers’ service, about 15 local restaurants donate the food and drinks served at the event. Those donations make it possible for Terra and the Community Kitchen to host the fundraising luncheon.

“We are blessed to live in a community where people care about one another,” said Sally Michelson, Community Kitchen Executive Director. “Our job at the Kitchen goes beyond serving meals to those in need. It extends to loving people where they are and showing them the love of Christ through our actions. The money raised through the Empty Bowls Project and the hard work of those who partner with us in this event allows us to continue to share that love.”

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The Empty Bowls Project is actively accepting donations and is a project of Greater Paducah Sustainability Project (GPSP), a registered 501(c)3 organization, so your donations are tax deductible. Learn more on the Empty Bowls Project Facebook page or by contacting Michael Terra at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Restaurant/food vendors are still being accepted for the event…please contact Jay Downs-Siska, Restaurant Coordinator for the Empty Bowls at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to participate.

Tickets can be purchased for $18. Each ticket allows you to choose your own handmade bowl and then have it filled by the local restaurants who are right there at the event. You go home with a bowl, a great lunch and a good feeling.