Empty Bowls fundraiser approaching April 13, teaching service, collaboration



Marshall University, in partnership with local nonprofit organizations and volunteers, will host its 15th Annual Empty Bowls fundraising event from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, at First Presbyterian Church, 1015 5th Ave.

Community members are invited to the church to purchase bowls created by Marshall University art students and other volunteer potters from the Tri-State area. Bowls will be sold for $15 each, with proceeds going to the Facing Hunger Food Bank. With their purchase of a bowl, guests also can enjoy a bowl of soup, donated by local volunteers and restaurants, and participate in a silent auction, also benefiting the food bank. Cash and cards will be accepted at the event.

“Empty Bowls is one of our most anticipated events,” said Cynthia Kirkhart, executive director of the Facing Hunger Food Bank. “It is a wonderful collaboration of the food bank, Marshall University with the art students, and the community, as everyone comes together to support the feeding of over 116,000 food insecure folks in our service area.”

So many groups contribute, she said. That includes the Marshall art students, as well as the Huntington Museum of Art, and community volunteers who help create bowls and provide the soup and bread, not to mention those who attend and purchase a bowl. Each $15 bowl represents 112.5 meals, Kirkhart said.

“All of this makes for a wonderful event that helps us in our work to ensure no one is hungry,” Kirkhart said. “And none of this is possible without the university, and the longtime leadership of Dean Don Van Horn and Diana Van Horn, and the Christian community participants, for which we remain grateful as this partnership and support of the food bank has provided over 1 million meals since the first event.”

The class for which Marshall students create the bowls is about much more than pottery. It’s a community involvement class, said Frederick Bartolovic, associate professor of ceramics and organizer of the event.

“What is vitally important with this experience is that students understand the community they’re helping,” Bartolovic said. “That’s why as part of the class, which is called Community Based Learning, they go to the Food Bank and volunteer for a couple hours. They open up to what it is, and they know the impact that a bowl makes.”

That visit to the food bank makes all the difference, students said.

“There is a lot more that goes into things than you think,” said graphic design major Maggie Stovall, from Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Before being at the Food Bank, I never realized the process they have to make sure that people get what they need. There is a lot of work involved, and it was really eye-opening.”

The visit to the food bank got student Kevin Trautwein excited about giving back.

“It was surreal to see how my major can help people,” said Trautwein, a ceramics major from Lavalette. “It’s rewarding to know that I can help people with just raw clay.  I’m hoping to find other ways to give back with ceramics.”

For more information about the event, contact Frederick Bartolovic at bartolovicf@marshall.edu or 304-696-2902.

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Photo: Associate Professor Frederick Bartolovic (left) and his students Maggie Stovall (center) and Kevin Trautwein are participating in the Empty Bowls fundraiser April 13.