Trey Kinner has no idea who 3-year-old Brooklyn Nichols is, but he crafted the perfect bowl for her this grandfather acquired at Thursday’s Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Ashland Community Kitchen. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it, not for me but for my youngest granddaughter.
Brooklyn loves Ramen noodles. In fact, if she could have her way — which, of course, she can’t — I think Brooklyn would be perfectly happy eating nothing but Ramen noodles with perhaps an occasional hot dog and bowl of ice cream on the side.
So what does Brooklyn’s love for noodles have to do with the Empty Bowls fundraiser and with Trey Kinner? Let me explain.
My wife and I have attended every Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Community Kitchen since it first came to Ashland five or six years ago. With the exception of the first year when they ran out of bowls before I arrived, I have received a beautiful, hand-crafted bowl and a delicious meal of soup, chips, bread and dessert for the $10 cost of a ticket. That’s a real bargain.
Even when I did not receive a bowl that first year, I was disappointed, but I wasn’t angry. I thought the meal was worth $10 even without a bowl. I did not feel cheated. Instead, I knew I was helping a worthy cause that now serves about 40,000 free meals a year.
Since that first year, I have always come home from Empty Bowls with a beautiful bowl. In fact I regularly eat cereal — both hot and cold — out of the bowls I have selected in the past. Every time I eat from one, I think of the Community Kitchen and the good work it does.
I was one of the first in line at Empty Bowls. One reason is I was assigned to write a story about the event for the next day’s Independent. The other reason was because I always work late on Thursday, usually not getting home until early Friday morning.
By being the early bird at this year’s Empty Bowls, I could choose from more than 300 bowls, and overall I think the quality of the bowls at this year’s event was the best ever. The talents of potter Sam Perkins, the art students at Marshall University and the volunteers at the Pottery Place near Kroger’s in Russell are the reason for the quality bowls.
However, despite the large selection of truly beautiful bowls, the second I saw the bowl made by Kinner, I stopped looking. I claimed it knowing I had made the right choice.
The large red bowl is a tribute to Ramen noodles. As soon as I saw “Feed me noodles!” emblazoned on the inside of the bowl, I knew I had to get it for Brooklyn.
Kinner said he painted the bowl at the Pottery Place. He did not make the bowl itself. Instead, like most of the creations at the Pottery Place, buyers come in to paint and glaze the bowls to their own liking.
Kinner, 20, said he did not really know how the bowl I got for Brooklyn would turn out when he started it.
“I started painting, and then I realized the first two figures I painted looked like ninjas. I took it from there.” Kinner told me over the phone after I had received his name and number from the Community Kitchen.
Also written on the bowl were its name — “Earth Banding Ninja Bowl” — and “Yum!” “Me Like Chow Mein” and “Hungry Ninja.”
I gave Brooklyn her special bowl when she came for dinner on Friday, explaining it was hers to eat from when she was at Meemaw’s and Pepaw’s. Later, I saw her just gazing at her bowl — now filled with ramen noodles, of course — with a smile on her face that further confirmed the wisdom of my choice. She’s too young to read the phrases, but when she is old enough to do so, they will make her bowl even more special.
Thanks, Trey Kinner, for making the perfect bowl for a certain little girl who I love dearly.
JOHN CANNON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (606) 326-2649.