Empty Bowls is a national fundraiser started by a high school art teacher in Michigan in 1990 to help students creatively raise money. What evolved was a class project that produced ceramic bowls that people were invited to purchase to benefit local food banks.
Wittenberg joined the tradition in 1994, and it has become an immensely popular event, growing from 100 to 600 bowls per year over that time. Empty Bowls guests select from their choice of hundreds of beautifully unique handmade ceramic bowls upon arrival, and then they are invited to fill those bowls with a variety of soups, salads and bread. Student-designed T-shirts are also available for purchase at the event.
The Second Harvest Food Bank in Springfield, a program run by Catholic Social Services, receives 100 percent of the proceeds generated by the fundraiser. To date, Wittenberg's Empty Bowls events have raised more than $52,000 for Second Harvest, with proceeds in recent years surpassing $6,000 annually.
The goal in 2007 is even more ambitious. Including sponsor donations and the sale of 600 bowls at a price of $12 each, event organizers hope to surpass $10,000 this year.
Student Coordinator Arwen Kirkpatrick, class of 2007 from Indianapolis, Ind., is organizing this year's Empty Bowls event to fulfill her community service requirement. As a senior art major, Kirkpatrick values the fusion of art and philanthropy.
"It's amazing to see art giving back to the community," she said. "Empty Bowls is such a great experience for art students. They truly do see how their time, effort and their art becomes a positive for Springfield."
Associate Professor of Art Scott Dooley, who has spearheaded Empty Bowls since arriving on campus in 1999, is excited about the annual event.
"Every spring, I look forward to this celebration of talents and hard work," Dooley said. "It focuses our awareness on the fact that art can be used to truly help others in our community."
Free parking is available behind Krieg Hall on Ward St., as well as in the Benham-Pence Student Center lot. For more information, contact Dooley at (937) 327-6327 or via e-mail.
Written By: Kimie James '07
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