OPRF ‘Empty Bowls’ fundraiser helps fill charities’ needs
Tony Canepa looks for some of the bowls he made. Students at Oak Park-River Forest High School made about 1,000 bowls in pottery class for the ninth Empty Bowls fundraiser at the school.| Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:35AM
OAK PARK — Connie Walksler picks up a hand-thrown bowl and holds it up to the gray and green one in her hand to see whether they would be a good match.
She didn’t need them to be exactly the same, but Walksler wants to assemble a collection of four.
“One will probably break in a week, and so I’ll have three more,” the 1983 OPRF grad said.
Walksler was one of hundreds of people who trudged through the snow Friday evening to attend the ninth annual Empty Bowls fundraiser to fight hunger, hosted at Oak Park River Forest High School. Those attending could select a bowl to keep and fill it for the first time with a variety of soups, including chicken taco, cream of asparagus or potato leek, provided by the school’s food service class and local eateries.
The popular event draws visitors from far and wide, including Westmont resident Michael Nooner, who counts on his friends living in Oak Park to call him so he can save the date.
“I enjoy the soup, and it’s for a good cause,” he said.
The roughly 1,000 ceramic bowls were handmade by about 50 student members of the OPRF Wheel-Throwing Club as well as church youth groups and Girl Scout troops. Some students made as many as 75 bowls at day-time and all-night bowl-a-thons.
OPRF ceramics teacher Pennie Ebsen brought the concept, which started in Michigan, to the village.
“It spread through the ceramics community, and I got hooked on it,” she said. “It’s nice to be part of a local thing that has a greater impact.”
The students purposely throw more vessels than are likely to be used during the event so no one who wants one is without a bowl. Any extra bowls are kept for the next year.
Some popular soups are consumed pretty quickly. However, any leftover soup is donated to PADS, Ebsen said.
In addition to bowls, students also made pots, teapots and other items available in a silent auction.
Proceeds from the event are split evenly between the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, PADS and Global Alliance for Africa. The 2012 event raised about $11,000.