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Kirtland Community College Students seek to Change the World, One Bowl at a Time

ROSCOMMON – The skilled hands of Joe Donna’s Kirtland Community College ceramics class, along with those of COOR-area potters, made and donated 270 bowls for the first annual Empty Bowls Art Show and Silent Auction to take a stand for ending poverty in America. The event, by way of its 100 plus attendees, raised $2,000 (and counting)! All left-over bowls are currently being sold on campus.

This first annual event took place on Wednesday, October 28th, at the Kirtland House on the college’s campus as one of the several October events hosted by the college to shed light on some of the nation’s most pressing social issues, domestic violence and poverty. Proceeds from the Silent Auction are to go to River House, Inc., a place of safety and empowerment for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and homelessness.

Not only does the “Empty Bowls” project raise money to support non-profits focused on eliminating poverty, but it provides an opportunity to educate others about the social injustice, which is a key component in ending poverty.

The over-arching idea of the Empty Bowls Art Show is that artists create beautiful bowls for patrons to take home as a reminder that bowls across Michigan and the world go empty each night due to poverty. The Wednesday night event’s dinner was comprised of soups, breads, dessert and cider, all of which served as further reminders that although bowls are being filled with tasty soups, others are without food across our local and international communities.

Delicious soups were donated from Mercy Hospital of Grayling, The Tin Fish of Roscommon, and Fred’s of Roscommon. Accompanying the soup was a nice assortment of bread obtained from funds donated by Glenns and Haertel Chiropractics. To top off the meal was a satisfying selection of desserts, donated by the Au Sable Exchange of Roscommon.

Artwork placed on the walls around the bowls was provided by some of the community’s most practiced hands, those of Kirtland instructor Scott Rice and award winning photographer Thomas Reznich. Awards to honor hard working student artists were donated from Paul Runyan Pottery and the Louisville Tile Company.

The Empty Bowls Project was started in 1990 by John Hartom, an art teacher in Michigan, who was looking for a way to help raise funds for the local food bank. Hartom’s idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference in the community. His students made ceramic bowls in their high school art classes and sold them at a fund-raising meal of soup and bread. Everyone who attends the event takes home an empty bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world.

By the following year, the organizers had developed this idea into the Empty Bowls Project and established the imagine|RENDER Group, a 501(c)3 organization designed to promote the concept.

Since its inception, this simple project has evolved into a far-reaching program providing support for food banks, soup kitchens, and other organizations that fight hunger. Empty Bowls events have been held throughout the world, raising millions of dollars for use in combating hunger.