Empty Bowls fundraiser targets hunger

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WAYNESBURG – Nothing says hunger like an empty bowl, and from noon to 3 p.m. April 6, more than 80 empty bowls will be filled with delicious homemade soup and served with fresh baked bread for Greene County’s first Empty Bowl fundraiser in the 4-H building at the county fairgrounds. And best of all, when lunch is over, the bowl is yours to take home.


The idea for Empty Bowls originated in 1990 when art teacher John Hartom decided to put an artistic touch to a fundraiser in his Michigan community. His high school students made ceramic bowls that were then used to serve up a simple meal of soup and bread. Contributing guests kept their bowls as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.


The idea caught on and now Empty Bowls is an international grass-roots effort to fight hunger that brings together artists, students, educators and good cooks who want to try their hand at creating handcrafted bowls and serving up a meal of simple pleasures to raise money for local hunger projects.


Thanks to the efforts of Waynesburg University senior Steven Snow and the university’s Bonner Scholar program, money raised through this first Empty Bowls Greene County will go to the Weekend Food Program for students in the county’s five school districts.


Snow, a criminal justice major, took on hunger as his Bonner project. As a junior leadership team member in 2013, Snow and two other students decided that Empty Bowls was a great way to get involved with a need in the greater community. “We decided to partner with the Community Foundation of Greene County to support and sustain the Weekend Food Program. That is how it all began.”


“Their choice of the Weekend Food Program is so important because this program needs community support,” Community Foundation Director Bettie Stammerjohn said. “Each district provides nutrition over the weekend for children who may not be able to get good meals outside of school. All the money raised through Empty Bowls goes back to the schools to buy this food.”


Soliciting donations is the heart of any successful fundraiser so Snow and his fellow Bonner Scholars got to work making the needed requests.


Standard Ceramics of Carnegie donated 500 pounds of clay and in January the Empty Bowls committee organized an all-campus event that gave every student the opportunity to make a bowl and donate it to the April event.


Art professor Andrew Heisey was there to assist as students came to the ceramics studio to make bowls, glaze them, and prepare them for the kiln. “We made about 80 bowls that night and used not even half the clay,” Snow said. Some bowls were made by pressing clay into molds while others were thrown on potters wheels. Ceramics students continued to make bowls on their own time until Snow was sure there was enough.


When Snow took Empty Bowls to the streets in Waynesburg, he began meeting others who were ready and willing to pitch in.


“We were involved with Empty Bowls in Pittsburgh a number of years ago, so when Steven walked through the door and said he was doing this project we were excited and glad to help out,” Artbeat Gallery owner Jim Winegar said. “We were able to help him make contacts for the food that is being donated and the gallery is putting together a silent auction of work contributed by local artists that will be bid on during the luncheon. Winegar Pottery is also making bowls for the meal.”


Rising Creek Bakery of Mt. Morris is providing loaves of the Artisan breads that people flock to Artbeat to buy on Thursday when it is delivered fresh from the oven. Dan Wagner and his students at Greene County Career and Technology Center have created four richly flavored soups – beef tortellini, stuffed pepper, cheddar potato and chicken and rice.


“Anytime we can step up to the bowl and help stamp out hunger in the community, especially for children, we will,” Wagner said.


Tickets for Empty Bowls Greene County are $20 and include the bowl to take home. Children 12 and under eat for free but they don’t receive a handmade bowl.


Doors will open at noon so that contributors can choose their bowls, and lunch will be served beginning at 12:30 p.m.


For more information or to purchase tickets on campus, contact Snow at sno3316@student.waynesburg.edu


Tickets are also available in Waynesburg at Community Foundation of Greene County, 108 E. High Street, and Artbeat Gallery at 52 E. High St.


Donations also can be made at www.cfgcpa.org. Click on donate now and choose a program to support.


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