Empty bowls fill up pantry

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Students at the Hollidaysburg Area School District spent weeks creating 1,000 hand-crafted ceramic bowls designed to raise awareness of the millions around the world who often go hungry.

The bowls were given to attendees of the district’s Empty Bowls event, which took place at 6 p.m. Friday in the high school cafeteria.

A thousand $10 tickets were sold, with close to that number showing up for Friday’s meal of soup and bread.

High school art teacher Alysia Watt, who helped organize Empty Bowls, said 990 tickets had been sold. The 500 mark was reached by 7 p.m., and tickets were sold out before the end.

Her students have been working on the bowls for at least six weeks, she said, with many in attendance to serve food, collect donations and distribute the ceramic bowls made by students in grades four through 12.

“We’ve been working for quite some time,” she said.

More than two dozen food vendors participated, with the students serving four different types of soup at a time; they tried to make sure there always was a vegetarian option, as well as chicken noodle or chili, Watt said.

There were many traditional soups available throughout the night, as well as more exotic options like The Dream’s Manhattan clam, Old Canal Inn’s salmon chowder and Phoenicia’s avgolemono.

High school seniors Lindsay Parnell and Carissa Blair, both 18, who had been working with Watt for months, said they were happy to have been able to participate and raise awareness.

Parnell worked the room collecting donations and rallying her fellow students to interact with the people attending. Blair stood at a ceramic table showing off the bowls, many of which she made herself.

“A lot of people are like, ‘When can I come get my bowl?'” Parnell said, and she was excited to see the room so full of people. “Even the younger kids’ bowls are really unique and special.”

Blair, who had helped several students finish their own bowls, said while the event was the culmination of a lot of hard work, she enjoyed working with the clay and making some beautiful art.

An hour into the event, the line wound through the school’s halls. At times there were more than 100 people waiting outside, before event workers brought them inside to escape a thunderstorm.

By the end of the night, attendees had raised $11,055.10, surpassing the $10,000 goal. Watt said the proceeds will be donated to the American Rescue Mission Food Pantry in Hollidaysburg, because of all the work has been done to end hunger and food insecurity.

According to a district press release, the pantry supports more than 180 families a month who otherwise may not know when their next regular meal would come.

Watt said she was elated at the turnout, and said leftover soup will go to a local food pantry for its patrons to enjoy.