Just recently I became aware of a really creative and innovative fundraising effort for food banks, pantries, soup kitchen and larger organizations that give aid to those suffering from hunger. The Empty Bowls Project is the major project of the non profit, Imagine Render, whose mission is to “create positive and lasting change through the arts, education, and projects that build community.” This program is an international effort to raise money and awareness in the fight against hunger. Each empty bowls fundraiser varies from community to community as organizations adapt this program to suit their group and community.
Here in my community a local food bank is partnering with the local Arts’ Alliance organization to sponsor this event. People wishing to participate can go to the Arts Alliance building during a series of Saturdays. After paying $20, they receive a blank ceramic bowl which they sign and decorate any way they choose. The Arts Alliance organization will fire all the decorated bowls. On the day of the event, participants will go to the local fire hall, find their bowl and use it to be served a simple meal of soup and bread. For those people who wish to participate in the fundraiser, but not decorate a bowl, some decorated bowls will be available the day of the event as long as supplies last. Once the soup has been consumed, the bowl is yours to take home to serve as a reminder that hunger exists in our world.
I love the creativity of this fundraiser, both in the uniqueness of the fundraising activity and in the fact that participants get to be creative and create something to take away. I also like the idea of coming together as a community and eating a meal together. I live in a small town, so chances are I will know several people as I sit down to eat my soup and bread. Finally I like that the meal is simple, because for people experiencing hunger, simple is how they eat, when they eat. I am often torn by the large gala fundraisers, often featuring celebrity chefs, that are thrown to raise money for organizations fighting hunger. I guess that may be what is needed to get some to give money to fight hunger. I just like that this event not only raises money for those who are hungry, but it helps to raise awareness of what someone who is experiencing hunger might eat.
This past Saturday my family went to decorate our bowls, some more enthusiastically than others. (It’s hard to get enthusiasm out of teenagers sometimes!) We got our bowls, chose our color palette and got to work. We all had different styles and ideas. I had been stressing over what to paint, as I am not artistic at all. In the end, I decided it was best to keep it simple and went with stripes and polka dots. When these bowls are fired the colors will darken a bit. Since finishing our bowls we have all mentioned how excited we are to see our finished products. Check back after February 20th and I will have pictures of the fired bowls! There are two more Saturdays left to decorate bowls, so if you live in my community and are looking for a fun, creative, socially aware event to do with your family or just on your own, head on down to the Arts’ Alliance building and get a bowl of your own!