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Oak Leaves

April 27, 2018

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Art professor Ejenobo Oke, along with other art students and faculty, have made over 160 bowls.

Photo provided 



Empty Bowls Event to Raise World Hunger Awareness


Evan Harris 


If you happen to see the mall filled with people and empty bowls, do not be weirded out. Instead, go and see what the commotion is all about: You might help end world hunger. 

On Saturday, April 28, at 11 a.m., the MU Campus Interfaith Board will hold Empty Bowls, a fundraiser for Heifer International, which is a not-for-profit organization that works with communities around the world to help end world hunger and poverty.

Art Professor Ejenobo “Jena” Oke noted the origin of the event. “There was a thought in mind saying, ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody could have their bowl filled with food instead of going hungry?’” she said.

The event consists of the public attending a lunch or dinner where they can pick out a ceramic handmade bowl which is then filled with food. They pay a fee for the food but get to keep the bowl. The funds raised this time around will go toward the organization. The bowls have been created by lots of community members from elementary school students to Timbercrest residents, local community members, MU staff, faculty and students. 

"Even the newest member of our arts community, Elizabeth Wamsley, is participating,” Oke said, “and she has volunteered to donate some bowls! We have made 167 bowls so far!” 

Saturday’s event will not focus solely on the purpose of the empty bowls and fundraising. There are also many different activities taking place also.

“We will have a concert by Friends with the Weather, various activities such as face painting, sidewalk chalk and rock painting, a video in the chapel explaining more about the start of Heifer International and its roots at Manchester University, lunch and Italian, door prizes which include gift cards and donations from area businesses, Manchester gear and prize packages,” said Rebekah Houff, campus pastor and event coordinator. “Connected to this event is the Senior Art Showcase in the Link Gallery from 1-2:30 p.m. and the Chicago Folklore Ensemble performance in Wine Recital Hall at 1:30 p.m.”  

Empty Bowls has entered its second year at Manchester, and Houff is excited for its return. “I am looking forward to seeing the community and the University come together to support a great cause, enjoy some great food, have fun together and learn about hunger in our world while helping to eliminate it,” she said. 

Houff also encourages students to participate in this event. “Students should attend to help end hunger and poverty, to learn more about the mission of Heifer International and Empty Bowls and to have an enjoyable time!” she said. “I think students will gain something from this event because there are opportunities to learn about hunger and poverty in our world, and to learn about Dan West, the founder of Heifer International and a 1917 graduate of Manchester College (formerly).” 

Indeed, Houff looks forward to emptying bowls in the future as well. “We plan for this to be an annual event,” she said. “We will learn a lot about what to add or take away for next year after the event on Saturday. Last year we supported Exodus Refugee located in Indianapolis, so we will support a different charity every year.”