Empty Bowls returns April 22 at Pullman Square

The Marshall University School of Art and Design will host the Empty Bowls pottery sale fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 22, in the gazebo at Pullman Square in downtown Huntington.

Bowls crafted by Marshall art students will be sold for $20 each, with a limited number of coupons available to local restaurants, including The Peddler, Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar, Black Sheep Burritos & Brews, and Bahnhof. Coupons are limited to one per purchaser.

Following the in-person bowl sale will be a two-week online bowl sale, organized with the help of The Pottery Place. It can be accessed at www.thepotteryplace.biz.  Proceeds will benefit the Facing Hunger Foodbank, with each bowl sold providing an estimated 180 meals to those in need.

This is the 19th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the food bank since its inception. The event was formerly held as a soup lunch-pottery sale fundraiser, but has been altered in the years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cynthia Kirkhart, CEO of the Facing Hunger Foodbank, emphasized the importance of community engagement with this event.

“For over 19 years, the community has worked with us through the support of Christian Associates and the many individuals represented through that partnership — notably two people who spearheaded the effort, Don Van Horn, representing Marshall University, and Diana Van Horn, who for many years was the executive director of the Cridlin Food Pantry,” Kirkhart said.  “Each year, we have always given them our humble gratitude and thanks for that stewardship to contribute to the creation of the event that continues to the present.

“The collaboration of education, art and community support to provide emergency hunger relief to the 17 counties we serve, representing over 145, 000 souls in need, is a powerful partnership, and truly, with everyone’s support in the event together we are facing hunger.”

The fundraiser is part of a community impact course in the School of Art & Design. Students learn about the workings of the food bank while honing their pottery skills as they create hundreds of bowls to sell and help the hungry.

“This is my fifth year participating in Empty Bowls, and I’m always excited to see the results our students produce in such a short time,” said Allora McCullough, a visiting assistant professor of ceramics, who helps organize the event. “This fundraiser has a massive impact on the community, and it’s an honor to be a part of something so wholesome.”

Each student spends a minimum of six hours volunteering at the Facing Hunger Foodbank. Not only do they learn about the workings and function in our community, but they get hands on experience with the impact their fundraising efforts go to benefit, she said.

“Empty Bowls is an event that demonstrates the power that art can have on the community,” said Frederick Bartolovic, a longtime organizer of the event and interim director of the School of Art and Design. “With every student bowl sold, there is the possibility of providing hunger relief for an actual person, or family, in our community. This is an opportunity for Marshall University students to make a difference, and all of us here at the School of Art and Design look forward to supporting this event every year.”

This event is sponsored by the School of Art and Design in the College of Arts and Media, as well as several community partners, including the Pottery Place, the Facing Hunger Foodbank and local restaurants.