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 $20. The sponsor chooses a local hunger fighting organization to receive the money collected. Unfortunately, the 26th and 27th annual Wittenberg Empty Bowls events (scheduled for 2020 and 2021) were canceled due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, online sales of bowls in exchange for contributions to the Second Harvest Food Bank took place.

Empty Bowls returned in 2022 in a modified format, and in 2023 we are back to normal! This year's event will take place at:

  • 2023 Wittenberg University Empty Bowls
    4:30-7 p.m. Thursday, March 23
    Center Dining Room, Benham-Pence Student Center

If you have questions, contact Scott Dooley, Professor of Art at (937) 327-6327 or sdooley@wittenberg.edu or Tyra Jackson at (937) 325-8715 at the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Here are some updates on the 28th Annual Wittenberg Empty Bowls Event:

First of all I want to extend a huge thank you to the Parkhurst Dining staff!  Parkhurst is a major event sponsor for Empty Bowls and helped with food preparation and clean-up for the event. I would like to applaud them on their efforts!  Without the Parkhurst staff as our partners on this project, we would not be able to run such an event. Thanks to Aaron Watson and the Parkhurst staff! Praacnaa Colestock helped schedule and organize the event. Alpha and Omega Custodial Services helped with the set-up and take-down in Shouvlin.

As the event has grown, the list of volunteers has truly become too long to list.  Please know that there are so many people who help make this event a success each year. Here is a thank you to several people below who were very instrumental in our fundraising success this year. As always, I hope I have not left anyone out.

Tyra Jackson, Executive Director, for Second Harvest Food Bank, worked tirelessly to line up food donors, event sponsors and volunteers. Tyra handled much of the event coordination and worked with all the area businesses that donate soup. She also organized the committee to solicit event sponsors from the community.

Sarah Eshelman ‘22 was our student coordinator this year.  She worked diligently during the year.

Event sponsors:

  • Platinum Spoon Sponsor:  Assurant
  • Gold Spoon Sponsors: Dr. Don Johnson; Dr Michael and Ann DuVall; Dulce and Mitch Horst; Mary Alice and Steve Neely; Sam and Antigone Petroff; Young Woman's Mission; Armology; Park National Bank; R.D. Holder Oil Company; Grimes-Kohl VFW Post 1031
  • Silver Spoon Sponsors:  Bethel Lutheran Church; Betsy and James Dean; Kyle Kohler; Stephen Moody; Springfield Foundation; Heidelberg Distributors; Rollins; Wallace and Turner; Richards, Raff and Dunbar Funeral Home; Trostel, Chapman, Dunbar and Fraley Funeral Home; WesBanco; Pediatric Associates of Springfield
  • Soup Bowl Sponsors:  Andy and Cathy Bell; Melissa Tuttle; Patrick and Tiffany Field; Community Health Foundation; Conroy Funeral Home; International Harvester Credit Union; Team Title and Closing Services; The Yost Superior Company; Clark, Shaffer Hackett Business Advisors; Strileckyj Law Offices; OIC of Clark County; Williams Mechanical Service; Walt's Auto Parts; Bryce Hill; Richwood Bank; Schneider's Florist; A&E Powder Coating; Valco Industries; Reliant Restoration
  • Spoon Sponsors: Amrit and Shashi Chadha; Mary Lou and Tom Loftis; Mr. and Mrs. Peter Noonan; Melinda Marsh; The Robert Warren Goodfellow Family; Dan's Towing; Youngs Jersey Dairy; Cole, Acton, Harmon and Dunn; The Roediger Team; Tracy Tackett; Brian Driscoll; Daniel Driscoll
  • In-Kind Sponsors: Armstrong Printing; CLS Graphics; Wittenberg University; Springfield High School

So…..here is the big number. We brought in $31,663 for the Second Harvest Food Bank at the 2022 Wittenberg University Empty Bowls event!  This equates to ​158,315 meals for those in need. Empty Bowls is virtually a 100% profit fundraiser with almost all of the materials, food and time donated for the event.

The 28 year fund raising total for the event now exceeds $580,000  which equates to over 2,900,000 meals for those in need in Clark, Champaign and Logan counties.

Thanks to all of you that came out to support the event. I am continually amazed by Wittenberg and the Springfield community. Truly inspirational!!

Thanks again for the campus support for this event!!!

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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