Empty Bowls raises awareness, money for needy families


Last year the Oxford Empty Bowls luncheon, seen here, drew a big crowd and made more than \$10 thousand. Organizers hope to do as well this year. Photo provided by Oxford Empty Bowls.

Miami University, the Talawanda School District and other members of the Oxford community join forces Saturday, Nov. 9, to raise money for families in need with the 17th annual Oxford Empty Bowls luncheon.

The event will be held from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Oxford Community of Arts Center, 10 S. College Ave. Proceeds go to support the Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services (TOPSS), and other local organizations that support those in need.

The idea of Empty Bowls got its start in the 1990s when a Michigan school teacher, John Hartom, was looking for a way to engage his high school students in a service project. The students made ceramic bowls, hosted a soup luncheon and donated the money they raised to local hunger relief organizations.

The Oxford Empty Bowls began in 2002. This year, the event will have new features, including a performance by the Oxford Music Academy, Miami Best Buddies and their families and a first-time-ever door prize of a “City Scene” tile of Cincinnati’s Music Hall donated by Cincinnati’s Rookwood Pottery. It also will have a nearly zero-waste policy because everything provided will be recyclable.

Connie Malone, co-organizer of the event, said they are hoping for a great turnout this year.

“Every year we are delighted to see and gratified by the line that extends from the porch of the Oxford Community of Arts Center and down the sidewalk,” she said.

Last year, the event raised $10,039. This year, there is no set goal, but, “we will, of course, be happy with whatever level of support our community can provide.”

Attendees will get to choose and purchase from a collection of bowls donated by Miami, Talawanda and local artists. The bowls may then be used in a soup luncheon.

Soups being served this year include vegetable, vegetable beef, Mexican chicken and lentil. The event also allows cooks from the community to show off their culinary talents by providing fancier soups such as chili, butter squash, ham and bean and potato soup.

Alice Laatsch, who is also part of organizing Oxford Empty Bowls, said she appreciates this event because age doesn’t matter.

“I love the fact that this event includes all ages,” she said. “Bowls are painted by preschoolers and soup made by senior citizens. My favorite bowl last year was painted by a 4-year-old.”

The purpose of the event is for guests to keep their bowls as a reminder that poverty is an issue across the world, and that many are left with empty bowls. The cost of entry will be $10 and free admission for children under 10, which includes a bowl.