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Empty Bowls is Friday, April 19

Apr. 14, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The Huntington Area Food Bank, the Marshall University College of Fine Arts (COFA) and others have joined together to help serve hungry residents in the Tri-State area with Empty Bowls.

The 10th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, at First Presbyterian Church, 1015 5th Ave., in Huntington.

Empty Bowls is a national initiative. For a $12 donation, patrons can experience a modest soup lunch and leave with a handmade ceramic bowl, with all proceeds donated to the Huntington Area Food Bank. The lunch is similar to a cafeteria-style line. Participants pick their one-of-a-kind bowl and go through a soup line. The lunch is intended to be modest to remind participants that many people in the Tri-State area go hungry.

"Each dollar raised by Empty Bowls will go towards purchasing food for families and children at risk of hunger," Erin Highlander, director of development for Huntington Area Food Bank, said. "The food bank is able to purchase 10 pounds of food for every dollar."

Empty Bowls increases awareness of hunger and how important the issue of hunger has become. One out of four children and one out of six adults are at risk of hunger nationally, and those numbers are even greater here in our region.

While the lunch is intended to be modest, the generosity of soup donors (restaurants, churches, and more) allows patrons many delicious options; but the bowls are the star of the show. People love this event -- and they love looking through and choosing a ceramic bowl made by Marshall ceramic students. The bowls are gorgeous, and the work that goes into making them is tremendous.

Ceramics professor Frederick Bartolovic noted that his students have worked diligently to create bowls for the event -- and that they've received help from various local organizations.

"I am very excited by this year's Empty Bowls," Bartolovic said. "The ceramics area and students in the pottery classes have worked very hard to produce an amazing array of handmade bowls for people to choose from. We also have gotten numerous donations from people, as well as institutions across the Tri-State region, including The Huntington Museum of Art and Ironton Middle School. This year was also unique insofar as we have had artists visiting from other regions of the country come in to the Marshall University ceramics studio to help throw bowls for our Empty Bowls event. I am proud to say that with all our bowls produced in house, in conjunction with all the support from understanding ceramists from across the region and country, we most likely are looking at a record number of nearly 1,200 bowls produced for this year's event. The students in ceramics at Marshall University and our ceramics area technician, Jason Kiley, are responsible for most of this extraordinary production."

For Brennan Lewis, an MU ceramic graduate and art teacher at Ironton Middle School, this was a way for her students to give back to the community, and also a way for her to stay connected to her alma mater. Lewis' students donated 50 bowls to the event.

"As an art teacher, it's not always easy to find opportunities to give back to the community, but it is a valuable lesson for the students, Lewis said. " I'm thankful we were given an opportunity to be part of Empty Bowls this year."

Bartolovic said it's important to remember that hunger is a more prevalent issue than we might realize.

"It is a great honor to organize this production effort," he said. "The problem of hunger in our own community is at times hard to believe. Many of us may not face these problems on a day-to-day basis, but it is important that we continue to spread the word that many people in our area do not know where their next meal may be coming from, and Empty Bowls is a direct opportunity in which Marshall University art students get the opportunity to help the community. Within my pottery and ceramics classes this is always a point which I highlight; art can make a difference."

The Huntington Area Food Bank serves nearly 100,000 people each month in 17 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. Nearly 20,000 of those are in Cabell County.

For me, Empty Bowls is the highlight of the spring semester. I love everything about Empty Bowls. I love the spirit of community, the generosity of the people who make it successful with both the donations of lunch and auction items but also the people who come out and support the event by purchasing lunch and auction items.

The work behind Empty Bowls is broken down within the committee: Diana Van Horn and Christian Associates manage the lunch aspect, collecting soup donations, staffing the kitchen, etc. Sam Kincaid and the B'nai Sholom congregation organize the silent auction, gathering items to be bid upon and more. And Skip Seibel and members of First Presbyterian Church graciously allow the event to be hosted in their space, and contribute facilities support.

For more information on Empty Bowls please contact me at 304-696-3296 or email jaye.ike@marshall.edu.

Jaye Ike is the special projects coordinator for the Marshall University College of Fine Arts.

The 10th Annual Empty Bowls

WHAT: A fundraiser for the Huntington Area Food Bank offers a bowl of soup that comes with a handmade ceramic bowl.

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 19.

WHERE: First Presbyterian Church, 1015 5th Ave., in Huntington.

COST: $12 donation.

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