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Empty Bowls event raises more than $2,000 for MESA
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Empty Bowls event raises more than $2,000 for MESA

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Handmade ceramic bowls raised more nearly $3,000 for Madison Emergency Services Association (MESA) late last month.

The fundraiser, part of the national Empty Bowls movement, was spearheaded by Wetsel Middle School Art Teacher Tiffany Kitner and Madison County High School Art Teacher Ashleigh Pugh. The two oversaw the production of ceramic bowls by their students, which were then sold as part of the fundraiser.

Kitner is no stranger to the Empty Bowls movement, having participated in high school and college, and it was something she wanted to bring to the local community.

“The Empty Bowls drive is going on its 26th year as an international grassroots fundraising event, reaching out to local communities to help those in need,” Kitner said. “I first got involved in the project my senior year in high school as an advanced placement psychology project. When I first got to college, our Edinboro University Ceramics Club participated in Empty Bowls for local community schools and food banks. The project had a huge impact on my life over the last six years and I when I interviewed for my position [with Madison County Public Schools], I emphasized my passion for the project.”

In early August, Kitner contacted MESA Executive Director Jennifer McLeod and met with her about the project. With MESA on board, it was time for students to start making the bowls.

At the middle school, 82 students made ceramic bowls using plaster molds. According to Pugh, Art 3 students created approximately 40 bowls, along with Pugh, using the pottery wheel, a skill she said takes a lot of practice and patience. In addition, some faculty members at the high school glazed bowls that had been made and actually ended up purchasing them. Some students who hadn’t made bowls also glazed some as well. At the middle school Kitner and several other faculty members also created bowls.

In total, nearly 200 bowls were created between the two schools. They went up for sale Thanksgiving week during a soup fundraiser held 5-7 p.m. Nov. 22. Attendees could purchase a ceramic bowl and also enjoy a bowl of homemade soup and dessert. The event brought in a crowd, with most of the bowls sold.

“There were many people who attended,” Pugh said. “The cafeteria was completely full and there were barely any seats left. As some people left, more people came in. There was a rush of people from 4:50-5:30 p.m. trying to get a bowl they liked. By 5:45 p.m., most bowls were sold. Parents of students who made a bowl attended. Grandparents who made a bowl were there. Faculty who glazed a bowl made it out. Faculty members who made soup attended, which we thank very much because without them, we wouldn’t be eating that night.”

“Over 150 bowls sold [and] over 350 people came to the event raising [more than] $1,000 in the first 20 minutes,” Kitner added. “All money went to MESA for the holiday season and money is still coming in.”

Kitner said she’s likely to host an Empty Bowls drive again and is thankful for all those who made the first one a success.

“Overall, I feel the event was a huge success, especially being the first time it was held,” she said. “We raised almost $3,000 for MESA and got to advertise and sell student work which was a huge success.”

“We definitely plan on doing this again,” Pugh added. “It was such a huge success and a big hit for the community. We enjoyed doing this event as well. Our students responded really well to the idea because they knew we were helping out the community. It was hard for some of them to say goodbye to their bowls, but they knew it was going to a good cause.”

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