Empty bowls will mean full stomachs after a hunger fundraising event at the College of Lake County.
The second annual Empty Bowls event Tuesday on the Grayslake campus was a localized version of a national project. More than 1,000 ceramic bowls made by CLC students were selling for $10 each, with all of the money donated to St. Charles-based Northern Illinois Food Bank. The price included a bowl of chili.
CLC staff member Janet Giertych arrived late to last year's event to find the bowls were sold out. She said that wasn't going to happen this year. More than $5,000 was raised last year.
"I came an hour early this time. I didn't want to miss out again," Giertych said with a smile. "I really like original art and it's a way to help others. It's a win, win, for everyone."
Hundreds of people browsed through three long tables covered with bowls in the college's atrium.
CLC ceramics teacher Ben Bates, one of the event organizers, said his students started crafting the bowls in September.
"We had both students and staff members making bowls," Bates said. "Some of them made 10 bowls, others made 100. At least 40 people were involved in creating them. It looks like we have twice as many people attending this year compared to last year."
The North Carolina-based Empty Bowls Project was started by a high school art teacher in Michigan in 1990 and has grown to include events across the country. The group has a mission to raise money and awareness about hunger and food security, according to its Web site.
Northern Illinois Food Bank officials say they are grateful for the folks at the college.
"The generosity of civic-minded groups like the Ceramics Club from the College of Lake County ensures that the food bank will be able to continue providing much needed nutrition to the swelling lines of those requiring food assistance," said H. Dennis Smith, the food bank CEO and president. "Although we are doing everything we can to feed 61,600 people each week, we cannot do it without the help of our community partners."
The NIFB distributed more than 27 million pounds of food in 2009, officials said. Food was given to more than 520 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other food assistance sites.
Chowing down a hot bowl of chili, ceramics student Tom Andersen enjoyed watching some of his work getting snatched up by the crowd. He crafted 30 bowls.
"This is a great event. You get a bowl, you get chili, and all the money goes to the food bank," he said.