Once again, we will be donating bowls made by our members to The Giving Circle Hope. The Giving Circle of Alexandria pools intellectual and financial resources with a strategic purpose to serve the Children, Youth and Families of Alexandria. This organization will hold an Empty Bowls supper and donate the funds raised to Food for Others, a group that works with the homeless in our area. This is a very worthy cause that we should all be very proud of supporting. However, this event is in trouble for lack of volunteers. In the past couple of years, 70%-80% of the bowls donated came from Board members.

We need volunteers to organize the collection of the bowls and we need you to pledge to donate bowls. Please send an e-mail to potters@theclayconnection.org (subject line: Empty Bowls Donation) and let us know how many bowls you will be donating.


Empty Bowls began in 1990 as an art class project in a Michigan high school to raise funds for a food drive. Students made ceramic bowls, served a meal of soup and bread, and invited guests to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world.

By the following year the organizers had developed this idea into the Empty Bowls Project and established the imagine|RENDER Group, a 501(c)3 organization designed to promote the concept.

Since its inception, this simple project has evolved into a far-reaching program providing support for food banks, soup kitchens, and other organizations that fight hunger. Empty Bowls events have been held throughout the world, raising millions of dollars for use in combating hunger.


The basic idea for Empty Bowls is straightforward:

  • Participants create ceramic bowls, then serve a simple meal of soup and bread.
  • Guests choose a bowl to keep as a reminder that there are always Empty Bowls in the world.
  • In exchange for a meal and the bowl, the Guest contributes a recommended minimum donation.
  • The Meal Sponsor selects a hunger-fighting organization to receive the collected donations.
  • Any organization fighting hunger qualifies.
  • All funds raised under the name of Empty Bowls must be used for fighting hunger.


The Clay Connection's Involvement

The Clay Connection began sponsoring its own Empty Bowls Charity Event in 1993 after Fran Newquist read an article on the Empty Bowls Project in a 1991 issue of American Ceramics and asked the image|RENDER Group to provide an information packet on this event.

After reviewing the information packet, the Board of Directors decided that this was the perfect cause for the membership's resources and time. Fran, along with Jane Cullum and Joan Brown, worked to sponsor The Clay Connection's first Empty Bowls Charity Event.

Since the first event, The Clay Connection has distributed over $130,000 among several charities located in the Washington Metropolitan area that lead the fight against hunger.


While no longer sponsored by The Clay Connection, the event itself has evolved into a true community project.

  • Volunteers organize and run the event.
  • Area potters donate their hand-crafted bowls.
  • Local restaurants, bakeries, and individuals donate soup, bread, and dessert.
  • Live musical entertainers, clowns, face painters, and pottery demonstrators donate their time to make this a fun and educational event for all.
  • Recipient charities provide information on their activities related to fighting hunger.


Membership in the organization is not a requirement of participation. Many of the event-night volunteers are not potters, and many of the potters who donate bowls to the event are not members of The Clay Connection.In fact, although local potters donate most of the bowls available during the Soup Supper, scouting troops, high school pottery students, and adult students at recreational facilities also make and donate bowls to this event.


Other innovative programs designed to join the fight to end hunger

CANstruction: A National Charity of the Design and Construction Industry created by the Society of Design Administration. Additional information is available at www.canstruction.org



For more information email EmptyBowls@GivingCircleofHOPE.org.

The Giving Circle of Hope (Reston) website