Filling de Witt with Empty Bowls

By Megan Palumbo, Katie Peters & Ruth Kehinde – Co-Editor-in-Chief & 1851 Staff 

Friday, April 12 marked the third annual Empty Bowls event at Lasell. Members of the Empty Bowls club invited students and community members to de Witt Hall to buy a handmade ceramic bowl, enjoy a meal and listen to live music. The proceeds from the event went to the Centre Street Food Pantry for the fight against hunger.

Attendees were able to purchase tickets at the door which they could exchange for bowls. Each ticket cost $5 for students and $15 for other guests. Once purchased, the bowls lled with soup. The empty bowl that attendees take home is meant to symbolize the many people who do not have access to enough food. The club made close to 300 bowls this year and sold 135 at the single-night event, raising nearly $2,000.

The Centre Street Food Pantry President Amy Less spoke to the crowd, thanking anyone who bought a bowl and the club for making this event possible. According to the pantry’s website, up to 90 families shop there each day when open. Club members volunteered at the food pantry on Tuesdays throughout the semester.

While attendees took home a bowl of their choice, they also had the opportunity to enter a silent auction and win prizes like homemade gift baskets, wheel-thrown ceramic bowls and gift cards to Bocca Bella Café & Bistro. Throughout the night the audience heard performances from Tom Casey, The Spartones and The Newton Highlands Conservatory.

In collaboration with the food pantry, Associate Professor of Arts Management Deborah Baldizar and students are not just giving back to the community, they are creating their own. While one student may mold a bowl, another will glaze it, making the experience and bowls both completely collaborative and one-of-a-kind.

Baldizar was introduced to Empty Bowls about 15 years ago after attending a similar event at University of Rhode Island. “I remember thinking ‘this is amazing.’ The community comes together. It’s about art and giving back. It just stuck in my mind as this beautiful event,’” she said. “Erina Alkema came to me and asked if she could bring her students to the ceramics studio [for an RA program]. I was like okay, and then I pitched the idea of [an] Empty Bowls club.” With the guidance of Professor Baldizar, Alkema and now alumnus Kat Brown established a meeting time every Wednesday night and organized the first event in 2016.

Junior English major and Empty Bowls Vice President Skylar Diamond said, “I joined my freshman year right when this little club was starting in Yamawaki. I’ve stuck with it so long because of a sense of community. It has built between myself and my fellow Empty Bowls members, as well as the overall goal that when we raise all this money at our yearly event, it goes to somewhere other than into someone else’s pocket.”

This year’s event brought in 140 attendees including students, Lasell Village residents, members from the Centre Street Food Pantry, Alzheimer’s Association, and Newton citizens. Senior fashion merchandising majors Ana Dumoff and Lily Anderson decided to come in support of Professor Baldizar, as both are in her Intro to Ceramics course this semester. “I think it’s gone really well. [It was a] bigger turnout than I actually expected,” Dumoff said. Anderson agreed saying, “I think it’s a great turnout for both the community and Lasell as a whole.”

Sophomore athletic training major Cory Neal made the impulse decision to stop by that night with her partner. “I’ve heard really great things and I’ve been to some Wednesday meetings…I didn’t come last year, and I gured why not come this year?” Neal said. “I think it’s a really awesome way for people to meet each other on campus, so it’s a great social event and also it’s going towards a great cause.”

Senior and Empty Bowls President Amanda Mitchell said, “Creating and making art is a powerful way to make a statement, but also bring people together, and the fact that we’re raising money for the food pantry while doing it is a great opportunity.”

Sophomore e-board members and psychology majors Ashley Lussier and Amanda Miller both have been part of the club for the past two years. For them, this year was different because, “We were way more prepared than last year and I feel like we keep expecting more people as the years go on,” said Miller. “Next year we definitely want to collaborate with different groups that have similar advocacy work like PRIDE, Random Acts of Kindness.”

“I feel like this year we had more people coming every week and we got more involved from extra clubs,” Lussier said. She is interning at the Alzheimer’s Association this semester and was able to recruit coworkers to collaborate with Empty Bowls as well.

When asked what the biggest thing they have learned, sophomore e-board member fashion merchandising Madison Griffin said, “…the value of teamwork. None of this would have been possible without every single per-son, even with the smallest role like someone coming by once. They’re doing something that helps us in the end.”

“This year we had 75 students [at the event] and last year I would say we had maybe 40, so I feel like the Lasell community is getting to know more and getting more involved with less outside people,” said Baldizar, “I would love to donate to other places in Boston, I think there’s a lot more places that are really worthy like soup kitchens. I’d love to grow [our Empty Bowls presence].”

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