Twenty-third annual Buchanan Empty Bowls Supper raises money for RAM

BUCHANAN — For the 23rd year in a row, students across the Buchanan school district got a chance to help their local food pantry while demonstrating their artistic talent during the annual Empty Bowls Supper at Buchanan High School.

The event took place Friday evening and involved students from preschool to high school, who created hundreds of handmade ceramic bowls in a variety of shapes and colors. The art was displayed on tables across the gym. The Buchanan Art Center also contributed to the project, offering dozens of artfully crafted bowls for people to choose from.

The event drew about 400 people to select a bowl for purchase and enjoy a soup supper and dessert. Students could buy back their own bowls and choose additional bowls from the art center. The proceeds from the sales were collected for the Redbud Area Ministries Food Pantry, a Buchanan organization that provides food, clothing and household items to those in need. Additionally, high school students also demonstrated how to make clay pots using a wheel.

Event organizer Cathy Tapia, a preschool teacher and potter, said last year’s event raised about $5,300 for RAM. This year,  she said she hoped to see them reach the goal again.

“We are their largest cash donation every year,” Tapia said. “Even though people donate canned food and goods to the pantry, they are always asking for money to provide those fresh produce or other things people don’t donate.”

Tapia said the annual project is an important way to involve students in helping their community.

“This is their first lesson really in philanthropy,” Tapia said. “They realize that the money they are paying is not just going for a purchase, it is helping someone else.”

Among those browsing from the varieties of ceramic bowls Friday evening was Ashley Hanson, of Buchanan. Hanson is a teacher at Ottawa Elementary School and has volunteered with the event for the past five years. She said she feels it is a worthy way to bring the community together to fight local hunger.

“It’s good for our community [because] all the proceeds go to RAM,” Hanson said. “We always find a handful of stuff to bring home.”

The Empty Bowls project is an international effort that was first started by educators and potters in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The message behind the project is to remind participants that every time they pick up an empty bowl to eat, someone else is facing hunger.

For students, crafting their own bowl and sharing it with the community will help to solidify this message.

“The kids all know that this is to the benefit of people that are hungry,” Tapia said.

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