Fire victims help fill "empty bowls" in community - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Fire victims help fill 'empty bowls' in community

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

When they talk about the "Empty Bowl" fundraiser for the Salvation Army, the empty bowl is symbolic of those who have little or nothing.

James and Beretta Simpson felt as though their bowl was empty after a fire last August which nearly destroyed the house where they and four of their children live. Then, the Salvation Army stepped up to help.

"The house was still smoking and I couldn't believe. They were right there, taking our information and giving us a card to help us.  Because we did lose everything," explained Beretta.

Said her husband James, "Just to see them out there with such a quick response. It was really eye opening and it helped me understand the good that they do."

Beretta knew then she wanted to pay it forward.

"I swore to myself that I would definitely want to give back to them, because they were right there for us when we needed them," Beretta said.

So, the husband and wife are doing their part to give back to the Salvation Army.

On most mornings, you can find the two slaving over the stove, preparing food for those who will come to eat at their restaurant, the Lunch Box, at 3rd Avenue and Broad Street in Lake Charles.

This year, the Simpsons are among local chefs preparing their favorite soups for the empty bowl fundraiser.

"The soup that we're going to make is Baretta's famous beef and  vegetable soup. The whole family gets excited when she makes it. In fact, my sister tried to imitate it just recently. But everybody loves it," James said.

Baretta said it's a family favorite.

"I want to be modest, but it's a good soup. It's one of my best recipes," said Baretta.

The Salvation Army helps thousands of families each year with emergency meals, housing, clothes and even rent and utilities for a few. One of those planning this year's event is Bill Thomason, who serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board. He said some of the services they provide include the Center of Hope.

"Gentlemen that are down on their luck, they help them, they have overnight accommodations for them for a temporary basis. They help them get a savings account open," said Thomason.

The"Empty Bowl" fundraiser helps pay for social services that sometimes provide a lifeline for those in crisis. 

The event is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, March 14 at L'Auberge Casino Resort. For more information, call the Salvation Army at 337-433-4155.

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