Twelfth annual Empty Bowls raises $17,700 for local food bank

EmptyBowlsCheck_05-06-15A check for $17,700 from Huntington’s 2015 Empty Bowls event was presented to Facing Hunger Foodbank Executive Director Cynthia Kirkhart last week on the Memorial Student Center plaza.

Ceramics Assistant Professor Frederick Bartolovic and students, as well as representatives from B’nai Sholom Congregation and Christian Associates, presented the check. Together they worked to host the 12th annual event on April 17 at First Presbyterian Church.

The funds raised will allow the food bank to put nearly 106,200 meals on Tri-State tables, according to Kirkhart.

Marshall ceramics students created about 1,200 bowls for the day, while local area potters, the Huntington Museum of Art and others donated an additional 300, according to Bartolovic.

Bartolovic said the Huntington event has become so popular since its inception in 2003 that he created a service learning class so his students could create a more formal relationship with the food bank while creating more bowls for the benefit. This year students were able to participate in one of the food bank’s mobile pantries, and Bartolovic said the visit brought the point home for many.

“When my students get the Empty Bowls assignment, they know it’s for Facing Hunger Foodbank,” Bartolovic said, “but being able to actually help on a mobile pantry and see who they’re fundraising for is priceless. I hope the idea that they can serve the community through art sticks with them.”

In addition to walking away from the four-hour event with a handcrafted, ceramic bowl, for their $15 donation patrons were also offered a modest soup lunch. The serving portion and style, meant to emulate a soup kitchen, reiterates Empty Bowls’ mission to help feed the hungry.

All supplies and food for the lunch, and goods and services to be sold as part of a silent auction, were donated by area businesses. More than 100 Marshall University students and other community members volunteered at this year’s event.

Facing Hunger Foodbank serves more than 113,000 individuals in 17 counties across West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

Photo: Pictured with the ceremonial check are (from left) Ginny Painter, Marshall’s senior vice president for communications and marketing; Frederick Bartolovic, assistant professor of ceramics; ceramic students Kaitlin Blatt, Hannah Saxton and Chelsey Adkins; Sam Kincaid, B’nai Sholom Congregation representative; Cynthia Kirkhart, executive director for Facing Hunger Foodbank; and Diana Van Horn, Christian Associates representative.