Empty bowl fundraiser brings out many eager donors

Mack Jones, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, ETHS hosted its 23rd annual Empty Bowl, a fundraiser supporting local non-profit organizations, and the fight against hunger. The charity event took place during both lunch blocks in the Terrace, which is located on the second floor of the Arts Wing. The bazaar was put on by the Community Service Department, in conjunction with the Fine Arts Department. It is normally spearheaded by Diana Baalitan, the Community Service Coordinator at ETHS. 

The Terrace was crowded, with tables displaying the bowls for sale along the windows. There was a long line leading from the door to the back room where soup was distributed. Tables dotted the whole area, and almost every seat was full. The event was so popular that during the second lunch block, they ran out of chicken in the chicken noodle soup. 

Students in ceramics class made the bowls which were sold alongside soup for varying prices. Students in the Community Service Club made cookies, to go with the varying stew options, including lentil soup and a type of chili. The fundraiser is beloved by many because of how it showcases students’ individual talents, whether that be through baking or sculpting.

“The kids who make stuff always feel really proud,” said ceramics teacher Petra Maton, “They get all excited about it. And it’s just a really great opportunity to take some chances with their making, because they’re a little more adventurous sometimes with the bowls they make with this event compared to their own personal work.”

The selection was not limited to ceramic bowls though, there were options such as plates and mugs for purchase. The items varied in cost, with price ranges of $2, $5, and $10. There were also bowls on display from local artists, which were auctioned off on a table off to the side from the other ceramic pieces. 

Their work was appreciated by customers at Empty Bowl. Sophomore Jexa Edinberg said, “I saw the bowls out on the table, and I thought they looked really cool. I also thought they would be practical and bring back memories of friends. The soup was really good as well.”

Edinberg was not the only one to enjoy the food on offer. Substitute teacher Terry Meyers said, “The lentil soup was excellent. Everything really was. One of the things that I appreciated the most was that there were fruits and vegetables so that the kids could eat healthier.”

Students can participate in Empty Bowl in a variety of ways, including turning up to the event to buy bowls, working on some of the stock, or volunteering. 

“I heard that they were serving some traditional Ethiopian food here, and I’m Ethiopian so I wanted to go anyway and try the food. What made me want to volunteer though, was really just a desire to do my part for the community,” said student volunteer Amen Fisseha.

Another volunteer, Isaiah Turk, said, “I’ve worked in soup kitchens before and I’ve had a really good time doing it. It gives you a feeling that’s really tough to describe but it’s a fantastic one. When I heard about Empty Bowl, I thought it was a similar kind of thing, so I got involved with it and have had a great time doing it.” 

It’s a very difficult process to set everything up in the Terrace and prepare the bowls to be sold to visitors.

“It’s always a little bit tricky,” said Maton, “We have to get every [bowl] made and then dried. And then there’s this trimming bit, and then you’ve got to turn over every bowl and fix the bottom. Then fire it off, blaze it, fire it all again, and then get it all up here. We started in early November, but I think next year we’ll have to start in May!” 

There was more chaos this year than in the past. Baalitan, who normally coordinates the whole event, was out sick. Erin Claeys, her backup, was out sick too. This left Maton to synchronize much of the event, a job she has not had to do in her 17 years of being involved with the project. 

Despite certain difficulties setting up the event, guests still enjoyed it. 

“It’s great that it gives students an opportunity to be involved and engaged inside the community,” said Gary Goldman, a substitute teacher at ETHS. “We need more of the younger generation to make a difference in the world and this is a great way to do that. Plus, the chili’s great.”