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UMPI Art Program hosts Empty Bowls fundraiser

The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Art Program used pottery to fight hunger on a local scale as part of the region’s Fifth Empty Bowls fundraiser. Featuring the handmade creations of students and local ceramicists all to benefit a local soup kitchen, this year’s event took place on Thursday, Dec. 20 at the Sargent Family Community Center.

Empty Bowls is the only fundraiser of its kind for northern Maine, with participants helping to feed local residents in need with every bowl purchased. A unique component of the event is that participants also get to enjoy cups of homemade soup donated by community members as a symbol of gratitude for their support. The event featured 196 bowls and eight homemade soups, raising more than $1,300 for Martha and Mary’s Soup Kitchen. The event is organized by UMPI Assistant Professor of Art Hyrum Benson’s Ceramics I, II and III classes.

“It’s a special thing to be able to use this art we make with our hands to help others in our community,” Benson said. “We love hosting Empty Bowls in Aroostook County every year and are grateful for all the support we receive in order to make it happen.”

As in years past, the hand-crafted bowls were made and donated by a wide range of individuals, from artists in the County to UMPI students and alumni to Presque Isle High School students. Bowls were $15 each.

Empty Bowls is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger and was originally created by The Imagine Render Group, according to the organization’s website. The basic premise is simple: Potters and other craftspeople, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity.

All proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Martha and Mary’s Soup Kitchen, located on 21 Parsons Rd. in Presque Isle. The soup kitchen is usually open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-5 p.m. While open, they serve about 100 meals per day.

For more information about Empty Bowls, contact Benson at 207-768-9441, hyrum.benson@maine.edu, or view the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EMPTYBOWLSAROOSTOOKCOUNTY.