By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Student artists and community supporters joined forces to hold the 29th annual Empty Bowls Dinner Nov. 22, a soup and bread meal that helps raise funds to combat hunger locally.
Held at the Park Place Banquet Hall, 23400 Park St., proceeds from the event benefit Gleaners Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan and Blessings in a Backpack, which provides weekend food for food-insecure school-age children.
A piece of student-made ceramic art work was included with each donation of $5 or more.
This year’s participating schools include Fordson, Edsel Ford and Dearborn high schools, Bryant, McCollough-Unis, and O.L. Smith middle schools, Geer Park, Henry Ford, Maples and Miller elementary schools and Dearborn Schools’ virtual K-12 program. Dearborn art teachers also donated original ceramic art to the event.
DPS art resource teacher Susan Briggs said they weren’t live last year, but raised $2,000 with a virtual event.
She said she is proud of the students, teachers and the art department that made this year’s live event possible, and said they explain the community service aspect to the children.
“We talk a lot about how it is a community service project, and community service learning, where they’re able to help other people who aren’t as fortunate as them,” Briggs said.
She said some students will bring their families to the event and purchase their own art work.
“We are super grateful to people who donated things, and Park Place is so generous to do this for us every year,” she said. “Rovin Ceramics donated 450 pounds of clay so we didn’t have to take it out of our own clay budget, and a bunch of people donated to the tin can raffle, and that raises $500 to $600 each year.”
In addition to the Dearborn Public Schools, Park Place Caterers and Rovin Ceramics of Ann Arbor, the event was made possible through donations from Starbucks Coffee, Motawi Tileworks of Ann Arbor, Sattva Yoga Center of Dearborn, Blick Art Materials of Dearborn and the Michigan Bread Company of Taylor.
School Board President Jim Thorpe said he is glad that the kids are getting a chance to participate in live events for a good cause.
“It’s one of the easier ways for the community to know what the kids are doing, and how they can support the students,” he said. “Especially through the special programs, like art and music, when we are actually out there showing what we are teaching them.”
Bryant Middle School student Aya Naja, 11, who made a ceramic cow for Empty Bowls, purchased her own art work to support the cause, and said she was impressed by the art work of fellow students on display.
This year was her first opportunity to participate in Empty Bowls, and she said it is something she would like to do again, because it was fun and supported a good cause.
Bryant student Lilian Kaafarani, 11, who made a ceramic cow and a ceramic frog, said she enjoys working on art projects, especially painting, which she does at home.
She said she was glad that they were able to help the less fortunate by participating.
“I think it is really nice of them to donate,” she said, referring to her fellow students’ artwork.
City Councilwoman Leslie Herrick said she loves attending the annual Empty Bowls event.
“I am really appreciative of the art department at the Dearborn Schools,” she said. “They’ve done this after year, and coordinated this.”
Herrick said Empty Bowls provides a good lesson for the students while they are putting their hearts into their art work and giving it away for people that they know might be less fortunate.
“The whole Empty Bowls concept, just reminding us that even for some people, a simple dinner of bread and soup might be all that they get,” she said. “And especially during Thanksgiving, when we have such an abundance of richness in our community, it’s humbling when you think about it.”