Here are a few frequently asked questions about our ninth annual Empty Bowls event.

Photo by Teresa Salinas


What does my ticket cost include?

Your ticket cost includes selection of one handmade ceramic bowl out of over 800 on display, a simple dinner of donated soup and bread, and an evening of celebration and fellowship. You may choose to bid on items in our silent auction or to purchase additional bowls.

Why do you prefer advance ticket sales?

We want to make sure we have enough soup – not too much and not too little!  We also want to make sure we have seating and bowls for every guest. Advance sales help us to plan. Advance ticket sales will close on Friday, January 13 at noon.

Why are the advance ticket sales more expensive than the posted price?

We want to make the full donation of our ticket cost – $25/adult, $15/child 10+under – to Bethesda Project. There is a credit card processing fee for each ticket, so we built that into the prices you see on the online sales page.

How does the event run? How long does the event last?

We will open the doors at 6:15 PM. We ask our guests to choose one bowl per ticket on their first trip through the line. Guests can choose more bowls to purchase throughout the evening.

Student + Bethesda Project speakers begin around 7:30 PM. We will close the Silent Auction shortly after the speakers begin. Silent Auction results will be announced after the last speaker.

Guests check-out with purchased bowls + Silent Auction winnings.

We anticipate the event will conclude at around 8:30 PM.

How can students volunteer to help?

Until our volunteer shifts our filled, upper school students from Malvern, Villa, and Notre Dame can use this form to sign up to volunteer. (Our student chairs are also sharing this information via email, and recruiting friends!)

The Malvern Prep calendar says the event takes place on Saturday, January 7th. Why did you change the date to Friday the 13th?

Reverse superstition. (Just kidding.)

We changed the date because three of our most involved student chairs were scheduled to train in Florida with the swim team through January 8. We weren’t aware of the dates of the swimming trip when we planned the event for January 7, prior to the end of last school year. The students brought the trip dates to our attention early enough that we could explore other options, and Friday, January 13 seemed to be the best date. Students are off school, so our volunteers can help prepare during the day.

We’re aware that Empty Bowls is scheduled against basketball and hockey games on January 13. There simply are no dates on a very busy calendar that are not concurrently scheduled with other programs. We’re hoping that Friar Nation can find some time to support multiple events!

Do you give bowls to the homeless?

We usually deliver a stack of bowls to Bethesda Project after the event for use in their programs. But we recognize that Bethesda Project is able to make more efficient use of our financial donation.

How many people worked on making the bowls?

Every freshman and sophomore at Malvern was involved in glazing, through the fall Christian Service program. A committee of talented students from Malvern, Villa, and Notre Dame made many of the bowls, and got their friends to help. Students in Ceramics classes at all three schools made one more more pieces in their classes. Alumni and many families helped at open studios and drop-in events.

Our philosophy behind planning an event like Empty Bowls is educational. There are far easier ways to fundraise. The goal, beyond philanthropy for a worthwhile organization, is for our students and community to practice sharing their talents and gifts as service. If we develop a talent in the ceramics studio – or if we have the privilege of using a studio space – how might we channel these blessings towards the service of others?

So, the answer? Too many people to count helped with making these bowls. We are grateful for the huge investment of time and talent, and we hope that it makes a difference.

Is my bowl safe to use?

Yes – the bowls are microwave + dishwasher safe. The only reason we do not serve soup in the bowls at the event is because our volunteers have handled these pieces extensively during setup. After a good washing, your bowl should be good for a lifetime of use!

Can I make a donation to the event if I cannot attend?

Yes – buy tickets! All proceeds from purchased tickets – whether or not you attend – will be used for our donation to Bethesda Project. There is also an option on the ticket order form to make an additional donation.

[Slow clap] Way to come up with such a good idea, Malvern/Villa/Notre Dame….

Thanks, but Empty Bowls is not our original idea. The idea was developed in 1991 by Michigan art teacher John Hartom and his wife Lisa. Their Empty Bowls was planned as a one-time event – but the idea took off.  The Imagine/RENDER Group, a 501(c)3 organization, was created to promote the project. In order to lend the name Empty Bowls to these events, the full proceeds must be donated to an organization that helps to fight hunger.

Empty Bowls is celebrating its 25th year in 2015-2016!  Here’s a great video on roots of the Empty Bowls project: