Online pottery sale to benefit community food bank

Graphic for Empty Bowls 2021 event

Marshall University’s School of Art & Design and the Pottery Place will host the 18th annual Empty Bowls fundraising pottery sale event next month. For the second year, the pottery sale will be online and will last from April 1 to 30 at Proceeds go to the Facing Hunger Food Bank.

Bowls created by Marshall art students will be sold online for $20 per bowl, with each bowl sold providing 180 meals for those in need.

The traditional one-day, soup lunch event that is the usual format for this longstanding Marshall tradition was canceled last year due to the pandemic, but the pottery sale itself was rescued by the Pottery Place, whose owner, Marshall graduate Jessica Stone, offered to sell the bowls on her company website. Last year’s event raised $9,128 for the food bank, helping the food bank provide over 89,000 meals. Over the past 17 years, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the food bank.

“Empty Bowls has been an important part of our work, and a critical partnership with Marshall University’s School of Art and Design in bringing art and service to our community,” said Cynthia Kirkhart, CEO of  the Facing Hunger Food Bank. “The students get a lot of experience in creating the bowls. The community benefits from the beautiful art, and the over 130,000 souls we serve benefit from the proceeds of each bowl purchased. I can’t express the power of this event and the collaboration that supports feeding those in need.”

This year’s event will also feature a dessert auction. Participants are encouraged to check the Pottery Place website each Friday for updates, new bowls and to see which desserts are being auctioned.

The first 100 purchasers also will receive 10%-off coupons for food orders from Bahnhof and Black Sheep Burritos & Brews.

“Empty Bowls presents an amazing opportunity where the community of Huntington and the students of Marshall can come together for this charitable event,” said Frederick Bartolovic, interim dean of the School of Art and Design and longtime coordinator of the Empty Bowls event. “The altruistic nature of Empty Bowls is exemplified by the dedication of our students in the School of Art & Design, and their commitment to taking on this coursework and creating bowls that will ultimately benefit the Facing Hunger Foodbank.

“This year in particular, because of the pandemic, and the economic uncertainty of small local businesses, the Empty Bowls cause is as important as ever. Although this year’s event is not the typical soup lunch affair, we all have worked diligently to create a safe alternative that former patrons can enjoy, and newer people who have never taken part can also find rewarding.”

Allora McCullough, a visiting assistant professor of ceramics who is helping coordinate the event, said they anticipate having close to 1,000 bowls for sale this year, at least 300 of which are new productions by the current students enrolled in the potter’s wheel course. “They have been working hard to learn wheel throwing and decoration techniques,” she said. “I’m excited to share what they’ve been creating.”

Stone said the fundraiser has held a special place in her heart since she was a ceramics student working on Empty Bowls back in the early 2000s.

“It is my duty and pleasure to help with this wonderful fundraiser that is dear to my heart,” Stone said. “I’m just doing my part to be a helping hand to the community in which we live and serve.”