HCC students donate work to Empty Bowl Dinner

By Caroline Klapper | Feb 27, 2013
Photo by: Caroline Klapper A stack of bowls made by clay arts students at HCC waits to be sent to the Open Door for the annual Empty Bowl Dinner.

Creating a bowl is one thing the clay arts students at Haywood Community College know how to do and do well, which makes them the perfect fit to help out with the annual Empty Bowl Dinner benefitting the Open Door Soup Kitchen.

The event, now in its 12th year, features a soup dinner with proceeds going to The Open Door to help feed those in the community in need of a hot meal. But what makes the Empty Bowl Dinner special are the bowls themselves.

Each person attending the fundraising dinner gets to choose a handmade pottery bowl created by local potters, and among them are the works of HCC’s pottery students.

“Every year the students donate a handful of bowls, a couple a piece,” said Stephen Lloyd, clay arts instructor of the Professional Crafts Clay Program at HCC. “It’s an easy way for us to support the homeless and help the Open Door soup kitchen.”

The students donate anywhere from 30 to 70 bowls for the dinner, and the pieces can range from simple and utilitarian to the more artistically inclined.

“They try to make them something that could hold soup. Some of them are more decorative than functional but many are straight up soup bowls,” Lloyd said. “The students do a lot of work for school projects, so we always have a little extra.”

And sharing that “little extra” is what the Open Door is all about. In addition to offering hot meals every day, the nonprofit also helps those who are homeless or in need of further assistance with everything from showers and laundry, to finding a job.

Empty Bowl events have taken place all over the country to raise money for soup kitchens or other charities that serve the hungry, and Lloyd said he is happy to see his students becoming a part of that network of potters.

“It’s a way for us to be part of a greater community of potters across the country,” he said.

Pottery student Mary Batten said she knows of some HCC students who have gone to the Open Door for a meal when times have been tough financially, and she is glad to support the cause.

“I think the fact that we’re at a community college, they stress a lot to the students to be really active in the community,” she said. “It’s just a nice opportunity to connect the community with something we’re learning and what we’re creating.”

The Empty Bowl event is one that everyone enjoys helping with, and it motivates them to create something special, said student LeElaine Comer.

“It’s really good to be in the program and not only be working on our own art but being able to create something to give back to the community,” Comer said. “We’re always trying to make new, creative pieces.”

The 12th Annual Empty Bowl Dinner is from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 2 at the Open Door on Commerce Street in Waynesville. For $20, diners are served a meal of unlimited soup and bread and a dessert, and every person is allowed to take home a handmade bowl of their choosing. For information, call the Rev. Perry Hines at 452-3846. All proceeds from the event go directly to The Open Door soup kitchen.