Empty Bowls: Freshman Hands Serve Up Handmade Bowls and Hot Soup


Freshman mass communications major Aaron Palmer places a finished sculpted bowl on the rack, ready to be decorated.

Piedmont College faculty and freshman will host the 10th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on Tuesday, Oct. 30, to raise money for The Lord’s Help Soup Kitchen.

“Habersham county has a large number of hungry families that rely on the soup kitchen for a hot meal,” said Chris Kelly, associate professor of art and organizer of Empty Bowls, part of an international project to fight hunger. “It’s a grassroots organization where potters donate their work, people donate soup and the community pays for the meals.”

Jesselle Witter decorates a bowl as part of her PDMT 1101 class.

Kelly said a student approached him 10 years ago about how Piedmont College could become involved in the project, and Piedmont’s participation evolved over the years to its current incarnation.

With the help of ceramics students, PDMT 1101 art students make the bowls, and “some people came up with the idea that we can fill them with soup, bread and a drink and sell tickets to the public,” said Monika Schulte, associate professor of German and PDMT 1101 instructor.

Empty Bowls has become a project of several PDMT 1101 classes across campus, including Schulte’s. After the bowls are made, freshman students decorate them and assist with the marketing, organization and setup of the event. Freshman participants in the improv group Shticks and Giggles and freshman music majors in Cantabile Choir will provide entertainment.

“This is truly a cross-campus collaboration,” said mass communications professor Dr. Joe Dennis, whose PDMT 1101 class helped with the marketing of the event. “It’s great when students across disciplines can work together to make a difference.”

Food for the event is donated by El Jinete Mexican Restaurant, Fenders Diner, Yonah Coffee and Café and Chartwells.

Freshman mass communications major Jessekah Stewart and Savannah Richards prepare bowls to be decorated.

Kelly hopes the event will raise at least $1,500 this year, acknowledging that any amount is helpful. After raising “a couple hundred dollars” the first year, Kelly said, “I remember showing up and apologizing for how little we raised, and they said, ‘We have months where we don’t get this much in funds.’ ”

Katherine Hannum, a freshman art student, said her participation in Empty Bowls was meaningful to her. “I really enjoyed contributing to this event because I get to make art that will be sold to support a great cause and will be used and treasured by supporters of that cause.”

The event will be held Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. in the Swanson Center Atrium. Tickets for Empty Bowls are $15 per person and are available at www.piedmont.edu/empty-bowls.

This story was written by the mass communications’ PDMT 1101 class: Conner Jelley, Geeth Mahagamage, Aaron Palmer, Savannah Richards, Sage Shirley, Jessekah Stewart, Jamarcus Strange and Anna Watson.