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.

Empty Bowls 2024

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 it was back to normal! Same goes for our 2024 event, which is scheduled to take place on April 4.

2024 Details: Wittenberg's 30th Empty Bowls Event took place on Thursday, April 4, in the Center Dining Room (CDR) in the Benham-Pence Student Center.

Wittenberg students, staff, faculty, and community members threw, glazed, and fired approximately 1000 bowls, with about 90% of these made on Empty Bowls Throwing Days on Saturday/Sunday afternoons throughout the school year. The Second Harvest Food Bank lined up sponsors to donate food (Parkhurst and several restaurants from town have donated soup and bread).

2024 Updates (written by Scott Dooley): 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. Lauren Tucker helped schedule and organized the event. Alpha and Omega Custodial Services helped with the set-up and take-down in the CDR and alternative food set-up for students.

As the event has grown, the list of volunteers and sponsors 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.

Allie Godfrey, Marketing and Events Associate for the Second Harvest Food Bank, worked tirelessly to line up food donors, event sponsors and volunteers. Second Harvest handled much of the event coordination, worked with area businesses to donate soup, and solicited event sponsors from the community. Bowls were made by: Carol Culbertson, Scott Dooley, Susan Finster, Alisa Mizikar, Lynn Riewerts-Carine, Casey Luther; and Wittenberg students Mady Grant, Olivia Hamilton, Ashley James, Davieonna Moss, Becca Shaffer, Luke Stanfield, Noelle Underwood, Lisa Mateo, and Haleigh Heising.

Thanks also to our in-kind sponsors: Parkhurst Dining, Wittenberg University, Springfield High School

So…..here is the big number. We brought in $40,633 for the Second Harvest Food Bank at the 2024 Wittenberg University Empty Bowls event! This equates to 203,165 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 30-year fund raising total for the event now exceeds $666,543 which equates to over 3,796,093 meals for those in need in Clark, Champaign and Logan counties.

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.

Empty Bowls 2023

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