Winning twice is "twice as nice". And so it is for Patrick Norris, an eighth-grader at St. Joseph School in Cockeysville. Patrick recently won a gold medal for his first-place essay in the Optimist Club of Timonium's annual essay contest . "How Can I Help My Friends Realize Their Value" was the timely topic that was handled adeptly by Patrick. Stephanie Brocato was the second-place winner and Amanda Prater took third place. Skip Sheeler, president of the Timonium Optimists and Dolores Righter, essay contest chair, presented the recipients with their medals. Stephanie and Amanda also attend St. Joseph.

As for winning twice, Patrick also is good with the spoken word. After winning the Timonium club's oratorical contest last year, he went on to win in the zone competition and then took first place in the Maryland-South Delaware district contest. On the sports side, Patrick plays football, lacrosse and basketball. When asked what he would do if he had one hour to do anything he wanted, he replied "I'd play basketball". He explained that he plays on both the school team and for the rec council. He thought shooting hoops would be a great thing for him to do for 60 minutes to improve his skills. As part of the 40 hours of community service required by his confirmation preparation, Patrick participates in Camp Smile, a program run out of several local parishes. So far he has helped organize and handle packing food on a farm and assisted in making crafts with mental health patients. The oldest child of Paul and Eileen Norris, Patrick has two sisters, Mary and Tricia. Patrick's love of words is even evident in his spare time fun. He enjoys playing Scrabble and Words with Friends on his I-pad. As to the future, he hopes to someday pursue a career in writing or journalism. Way to go, Patrick!

Empty Bowls, a signature event of St. Vincent dePaul of Baltimore, will be held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium on Saturday, March 23. Teresa Eaton, director of communications for St. Vincent de Paul, says that the event raises funds, friends and awareness of their work to serve those who are hungry and homeless in the community. Hundreds of beautifully hand-crafted ceramic bowls will be on sale. You can fill your bowl with a variety of delicious soups and gumbos from some of Baltimore's finest restaurants. Attendees will also have the opportunity to pursue an array of silent auction items including, jewelry, pottery, sports and theater tickets and getaways. A wide variety of entertainment and activities will be available for the entire family, including crafts, face painting and soup competitions. Since "Empty Bowls" has been growing in size and popularity, this is its second year at the fairgrounds after a move from a smaller venue.

Two seatings are available: lunch noon-2:30 p.m., or dinner 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person (children 5 and under are free). Reserve a table of 10 for $200. Join in the movement to help prevent hunger and homelessness. Call 410-662-0500 ext. 201 to order tickets or to get more information on this worthy cause..