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Empty Bowls

The idea for Empty Bowls is simple: Participants create ceramic bowls and organize an event to serve a meal of soup and bread. Guests choose a bowl to use that day and to keep as a reminder that there are always empty bowls in the world. In exchange for a bowl and meal, the guest gives a minimum donation of $15. The sponsor chooses a local hunger fighting organization to receive the money collected.

If you have questions about Wittenberg University's Empty Bowls Event, contact Scott Dooley, Professor of Art at (937) 327-6327 or sdooley@wittenberg.edu or Rose Bradley (937) 325-8715 at the Second Harvest Food Bank.

About Empty Bowls

In 1990, John Hartom, a high school art teacher in Michigan, helped his students find a way to raise funds to support a local food drive. What evolved was a class project to make ceramic bowls for a fund-raising meal. Guests were served a simple meal of soup and bread and were invited to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world. By the following year, the originators had developed this concept into Empty Bowls, a project to provide support for food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations that fight hunger. The Imagine/RENDER Group, a 501(c)3 organization, was created to promote the project. Since then Empty Bowls events have been held throughout the world and millions of dollars have been raised to combat hunger.

Wittenberg University's Art Department hosted its first Empty Bowls event in 1994. Kate (Duman) Runyon, a ceramics major, took the initiative to get the project started. The event has grown from approximately 100 to 1000 bowls a year since then. All of the bowls are made by Wittenberg University students, staff, faculty and area potters. The food is donated by local distributors and prepared by Parkhurst Dining, the Wittenberg dining service. Art students also design and sell Wittenberg Empty Bowls t-shirts, which add to the earned income for the event. A committee organized by Catholic Social Services solicits sponsorships from area businesses and citizens.

The Second Harvest Food Bank in Springfield, a program run by Catholic Charities, receives 100% of the funds raised. Since 1994, Wittenberg Empty Bowls has earned more than $500,000 for the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Wittenberg's Empty Bowls challenges students to look for opportunities to help create social capital through their artwork. The event draws a wide cross-section of patrons from the Springfield community as well people from outside of Springfield.

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