‘Empty Bowls’ fundraiser draws large crowdMore than 1,000 people attend event

The fight against hunger was reflected in the display of an untold number of empty bowls Friday at the West Texas Food Bank in Odessa where the 17th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser got underway and drew hundreds of people.
The event marked the first time the grassroots effort from both the Midland and Odessa food banks got together under one roof to raise money — as well as to heighten the awareness for food scarcity — for the non-profit West Texas Food Bank. The food bank has been serving 19 counties in the region at a time when more people are in need of the facility’s services during the downturn, West Texas Food Bank Executive Director Libby Campbell said.
But the work that went into making thousands of handcrafted bowls that symbolize the simple meal of soup and bread, and that were on sale for more than an estimated 1,000 patrons to buy, reflected how the people were taking a stand against hunger in Odessa, Campbell said.
Those patrons either bought the Pick of the Kiln bowls for $25 or the regularly price bowls for $15. They also waited in a long line to purchase the bowl and to dine at the food bank after having bought a $15 ticket.
Last year, the Empty Bowls event raised either $16,000 or $18,000, Campbell said.
“It’s powerful,” Campbell said. “It’s a powerful moment.”
Empty Bowls is an international grassroots fundraiser that started in 1990, which had potters, craftsmen and educators in communities create handcrafted bowls. People were then invited to attend an event where in exchange for a cash donation they could receive a meal consisting of soup and bread and keep the bowl, explained Chris Stanley, an associate professor of art at the University of the Permian Basin.
Stanley has developed a strong personal interest in the annual event for the past 17 years and lauded all the people, both young and old, who have committed themselves in making the bowls for more than a year.
Students from Odessa High, Midland and Odessa College, UTPB and the Boys and Girls Club of the Permian Basin all pitched in the effort, said Stanley, who stressed that the social aim in making the bowls goes toward combating, or addressing, food security for those less fortunate.
“How do we push the idea of love and compassion in our society,” Stanley said. “This was our manifestation into it, (in making) something constructive … it’s a struggle against the negativity that can exist in our society.”
Stanley couldn’t say how many bowls were made for the annual event, stressing that crafting the bowls had nothing to do with inventory, as much as it is “an act of faith.”
“If we set a number then it becomes a labor of industry,” Stanley said. “It’s done out of an act of selflessness.”
Jesse Trego, a 50-year-old Midland resident, agrees. He made his bowls while taking a ceramics class at Midland College, and can’t get enough of it as ex-
emplified by how he can make 40 bowls in an hour and a half before it gets shaped and carved.
Like Stanley, Trejo finds there is something deeper that goes into making the bowls.
“It’s love,” Trejo said. “It’s a passion, yes. It’s the ability to make something out of mud.”