(Jan. 18, 2019) The Art League of Ocean City and Diakonia continue to celebrate five years of collaboration on the Empty Bowl Project, with the mission to end hunger.

Participants can make their own bowls at the Ocean City Center for the Arts on 94th Street, where the proceeds will benefit both the Art League of Ocean City and Diakonia, a nonprofit organization which resolves to end hunger and homelessness in Worcester County.

“This is a really hands-on way to make a difference,” Rina Thaler, executive director of the Art League, said. “It’s great to donate to causes, but this asks you to actively get involved and to be a part of it. Each bowl when they are made, they are stamped Empty Bowl Project so that you have them each year as a reminder. It’s a very authentic way to be a part of raising awareness for homelessness.”

Last year, around 200-300 bowls were made and the event raised approximately $10,000. In the five years the Art League and Diakonia have partnered on this project, the organizations have raised more than $39,000.

“We’ve been [holding classes] for members of the public and school groups,” Thaler said. “We’re involving lots of different people to come in on this project.”

The money raised during the event is split evenly between the two organizations, which helps to promote art programs for the Art League, and provide resources for Diakonia.

“It’s a good way to teach your kids about philanthropy and being part of the community,” Thaler said. “We’ve been getting quite a few parents and kids working together to make a bowl. It’s a good inter-generational activity.”

So far, 300 bowls have been made since the first bowl-making class in October. The overall goal this year is 400 bowls, Thaler said.

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Edwina “Scuffy” Hinkle, of Fenwick, left, and Cheryl Potenza of Berlin prepare the bottom portions of their bowls during the Empty Bowl Project bowl making class at the Art of League of Ocean City on 94th Street, Tuesday, Jan. 8.

There are three classes remaining: Thursday, Jan. 24, from 6-7:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4, from 1-2:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 17, from 2-3:30 p.m. Classes cost $25 per person. There is a limited number of seats available per class.

“At Diakonia … Claudia Nagle, the executive director, and I met with Rina and decided that it was a very good way for two organizations who really have different backgrounds to have a very common goal and that was to bring to light people who are struggling with homelessness or food instability and that really don’t have the food to put in those bowls,” Diakonia Committee Chair Debbie Anderson said. “We each have our own things that we do for the event. Everybody does 50 percent of the work. We have it very well organized so that everybody knows what they’re doing and it works like clockwork.”

On Friday, March 29, a soup dinner using the bowls made will take place at the Ocean City Center of the Arts from 4:30-8:30 p.m.

Guests do not need to have previously made a bowl to attend, but can purchase one and soup for a $25 donation at the door.

Local restaurants will donate the soup, breads and desserts. Organizers are still looking for restaurants interesting in donating. A cash bar, a soup-to-go station, a 50/50 auction and live music will also be included. Guests are asked to keep the bowl as a reminder of all of the empty bowls in the world.

“All organizations in our community are so appreciative of the very generous community that we have,” Anderson said. “If we did not have the support of individuals, businesses, organizations and agencies in the towns, we really would not be able to keep our doors open 24/7, 365 days a year to continue to help people.”

Empty Bowl Project sponsors this year are Shore United Bank, First Shore Federal Bank and the Elks Lodge 2645.

The project was founded by Michigan residents Lisa Blackburn and art teacher John Hartom in 1990-91 when they joined a drive to raise charitable funds in their community. Hartom’s idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference.

For more information or to register for a class, visit www.artleagueofoceancity.org/event/empty-bowl-project-bowl-making-8/ or call 410-524-9433.

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