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Empty Bowls project goes on despite COVID-19

Submitted Photo Potter Ron Nasca unloading a kiln of Empty Bowls for the event to be held Nov.14.

Empty Bowls is entering its 28th year, and Marv Bjurlin is preparing hundreds of bowls to share at the annual community event.

Empty Bowls started in Michigan where a group of students made bowls and served soup to faculty workers. Their teacher wanted them to give back to the community and the faculty was so pleased they made monetary donations that were then given to a local food charity.

The event soon took on a global presence and the Empty Bowls project was born.

“Potters love to throw bowls,” Bjurlin said. “I did this project with my students on campus and then took the project off campus.”

An informal group of artisans called the Chautauqua Area Potters formed and collaborated to make bowls for the event.

“When we took it off campus we made $5,000 the first year and every year it’s grown,” Bjurlin said. “However it didn’t take long for the money to become a lot to manage so we formed a pass through account with the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation.”

The foundation takes the funds and then writes a check to the Food Bank of Western New York with the funds dedicated to Chautauqua County.

“In 15 years of doing this off campus we’ve made $250,000, we took in $30,000 last year,” Bjurlin said.

This year, due to the coronavirus, the event can’t be held indoors. The event, therefore, will be held earlier than usual on Nov. 14 from noon-3 p.m. in the corner of the east parking lot on Main Street in Fredonia.

There will not be any soup this year nor music or socializing, but there is still a $20 donation with all proceeds continuing to go as usual to charity; the event will be held rain or shine.

Bowls have been made by 15 potters so there will be a lot of forms to choose from. People will be able to use cash, check or credit card.

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