Malvern Prep’s seventh annual Empty Bowls event will take place on Monday, January 19, 2015 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Empty Bowls is a national organization that has been supporting thousands of these events worldwide since 1990, when high school art teachers in Michigan helped their students solve a problem and make a change. They were searching for a way to raise funds to support a food drive. What evolved was a class project to make ceramic bowls for a fundraising meal. Guests were served a simple meal of soup in a bowl they kept as a reminder of hunger in the world. By the following year, the originators developed this concept into Empty Bowls, a project to provide support for food banks, soup kitchens, and other organizations that fight hunger. The Imagine/RENDER Group, a nonprofit organization, was created to promote the project. Since then, Empty Bowls events have been held throughout the world, raising millions of dollars to combat hunger.
In 2014, the sixth Empty Bowls event at Malvern Preparatory School involved the efforts of over two hundred students and many of our faculty, staff, families, and friends. We started work on the project in September 2013. Students did not have to be enrolled in a ceramics class to participate, and many of the 850+ bowls created for this event were created during extracurricular hours and at a series of seven Saturday Open Studios. Most of the bowls were created ‘community-style’ – meaning, different artists participated in steps in the creation of each bowl. Many students, faculty, and staff sought peer teachers and learned how to throw on the wheel or how to glaze a bowl for the first time. Malvern freshmen worked in pairs during three orientation sessions on the design and painting of about a hundred bowls. During three especially meaningful evenings, Malvern sophomores worked together with guests from Bethesda Project to glaze over one hundred bowls.
Throughout the whole process, we keep the bigger picture in mind – that these bowls benefit our brothers and sisters who often face real empty bowls. We are proud to donate the full proceeds of this event to Bethesda Project, a Philadelphia organization that operates thirteen different programs, ranging from emergency overnight shelter to long-term, permanent housing for homeless and formerly homeless men and women. On any given night, 21% of all homeless single men in Philadelphia are sheltered or housed by Bethesda Project. Bethesda is more than a homeless shelter; the organization forms long-term relationships with their guests and residents, with a focus on affirming the dignity of the individual. Bethesda Project also focuses on building reciprocal benefits to residents and volunteers, helping volunteers to learn and grow through their experiences in service.
Our deepest gratitude to all community members who participated in Empty Bowls 2014.