OBSERVER Staff Writer
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
Chautauqua Area Potters gathered on Halloween at Mudslingers Studio to make bowls for the upcoming Empty Bowls fundraiser to be held on Dec. 1. More than 130 pieces were created by the gang of anonymous potters.
Once again, residents can come together for a good cause while eating enjoying delicious soup. The annual Empty Bowls event will be held at the St. Hedwig's Social Center next Saturday.
More than 1,000 bowls made by the Chautauqua Area Potters will be on sale. For a donation of $10, $20 or $30, a corresponding sized bowl can be purchased and attendees will be offered a simple lunch prepared by David Caccamise's culinary students of BOCES LoGuidice Center. All bowls will be sanitized prior to the meal. In addition to bowls being for sale, bowls will be raffled off.
"It's a simple meal like you would get at a soup kitchen," Event Coordinator Marv Bjurlin said. "It's really thrilling to us to have young people participating."
Empty bowls fundraiser
Where: St. Hedwig's of Blessed Mary Angela Parish Social Center, 324 Townsend St., Dunkirk
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: A donation of $10, $20 or $30 will purchase a corresponding bowl and a simple meal of soup.
Why: All proceeds will stay local to help alleviate hunger.
The local Empty Bowls event is informally affiliated with the national organization and does not receive funding from the national organization.
The name Empty Bowls comes from the desire to alleviate hunger. The national organization was started by John Hartom and his wife, Lisa. Bjurlin was a teaching assistant in Ann Arbor, Mich. when Hartom was in college.
"It's a really cool thing for me. John was a student when I was a TA," Bjurlin said.
All the pottery made is not signed. To keep the anonymity of the potters, each bowl is stamped with the Empty Bowls logo. All the proceeds from the event stay local in Chautauqua County. Chautauqua Rural Ministry is the largest recipient of the money.
"Here in Fredonia-Dunkirk, we're incredibly successful to raise as much (raised) in Syracuse," Bjurlin said.
The local event has been going on almost 30 years and potters from the Chautauqua Area Potters use Mudslingers in Fredonia to help make bowls. Almost 30 potters came together at a "bowling" party to make over 130 bowls for the event. In early years of the project, the bowls were made on campus by faculty and students before moving to potters in the community. While on campus, there were not as many people to help with the project, according to Bjurlin.
"(In the beginning) we were only able to raise a few hundreds of dollars, now we raise thousands," Bjurlin said. "We made a lot more bowls off campus than on campus."
Bowls can be made on a potter's wheel or by hand and are made out of dark and light clay. Fredonia resident Stephanie Brash feels more comfortable making bowls by hand. Brash used a hand made mallet to stomp out the clay before placing it on a mold to dry for about an hour. This is Brash's third year doing the project.
"The first year I just volunteered (at the event) then I got sucked in," she said. "It's so much fun."
Another potter already surpassed his goal of 100 bowls for the event. Cody Britton of Fredonia gave himself the goal to make the bowls for homelessness which he completed in February. Britton who uses the winter for pottery, is his first year working with Empty Bowls and his third year of doing pottery.
"This is my new avenue to contribute," Britton said.
Once the bowls are made, regular household items are used, including LEGO pieces, paint cans and even wine bottles, to make patterns. Bjurlin also likes to make his bowls by hand as well. and put the logo on the inside of his bowl.
"So when you see (the logo), the bowl is empty," he said.
The event will be held at the St. Hedwig's of Blessed Mary Angela Parish's Social Center at 324 Townsend St., Dunkirk from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tom Gestwicki will provide musical entertainment. This year's potters were Bjurlin, Ron Nasca, Michele Ballachino, Dale Bowen, Stephanie Brash, Cody Britton, Lucy Bryant, Ann Burns, Paula Coats, Cynthia Fitzgerald, Tony Georgakis, Doreen Gould, Marilyn Hall, Elliott Hutten, Ann Janik, Megan Johnson, Debbie Kotar, Ted Lee, Marc Levy, Duane Mallaber, Marcia Merrins, Don Parge, Cindy Recklin, Jim Reno, Pat Reno, David Rudge, Carol Samuelson, Sally Turner, Gary Vellan and Lauri Zebracki.
For more information, contact Bjurlin at 672-9151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone is interested in helping with next year's event by making bowls, contact Nasca at Mudslingers at 672-6833. Information may be found online at Facebook at www.facebook.com/fredoniaemptybowlsproject or www.emptybowls.net.
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