Non-profit launches event to benefit local hunger

Scheduled for 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. seatings Saturday at Liberty Center’s Sabin Hall, the inaugural West Chester-Liberty Township Empty Bowls features bowls made by local artists, students, residents and organizations.

Guests select a handcrafted bowl, receive a choice of soup, breads, desserts and refreshments — all prepared by local chefs and restaurants — then take the bowl home with them.

Empty Bowls was founded by Michigan art teacher John Hartom, whose class made ceramic bowls for a fundraising meal where guests were served a simple meal of soup and bread, and were invited to keep their bowls as a reminder of hunger in the world.

That’s a message that struck a chord with West Chester/Liberty-based Caring Community Collaborative, a local non-profit that has worked to raise awareness and educate the community about is the issue of hunger and food insufficiency, according to C3 founder and Empty Bowls co-chair Lynda O’Connor.

“Food insufficiency is a real life concern for some individuals and families within the local community,” O’Connor said. “There are people that are surprised at the level of need within West Chester and Liberty. The issue cuts across all economic levels.”

Four hundred tickets were made available for the event, which benefits Reach out Lakota and the Faith Alliance Summer Lunch program.

Besides the hand-crafted bowls, the event encourages an appreciation for the arts in other ways, including its student-made artistic placemats and bags, as well as luncheon music performed the West Chester Symphony and students from Lakota East and Lakota West.

Heading up the project for West Chester and Liberty townships is a committee that includes O’Connor, Carolyn Coley, Jane Gegner, Chris Burkhardt and Lisa Lizzio.

Coley is the one who approached C3 to get Empty Bowls up and running in West Chester/Liberty and has been working diligently with other communities to build projects throughout Butler County. She is assisting other groups in Fairfield, Hamilton, Monroe and Oxford.

“Efforts are being made to create community involvement with as many individuals and organizations as possible, as this is an issue which affects all of us,” O’Connor said.

The C3 team is sponsoring and helping support the project in a variety of ways and Butler County United Way has stepped in to play a key role, as well, she said.

Empty Bowls committee members hope to have all food and supplies donated or sponsored so that everything they are able to raise can go directly to helping those in need, O’Connor said.

“Local artists, community organizations and businesses have been very generous already with their support,” she said. “I think people will enjoy and want to be a part of this first event, knowing that their donation goes towards helping local families.”