By selling ceramic bowls made by students and professionals alike, Arvada High School put together the Empty Bowls project as a way to help local families get the food they need.
This project is more than just a fundraiser; it’s an opportunity for the community to build a stronger sense of unity and purpose.
“It (Empty Bowls) brings people from all parts of the community together to enjoy the fundraiser and help support the food bank”, said senior Melody Weber.
Empty Bowls is a fundraiser that gives local artists the opportunity to have their work praised and purchased. Each year, Empty Bowls brings in four to five thousand dollars and that money is put towards the Arvada Food Bank. However, in recent years, the food bank is finding its demand for more food multiply.
“We’ve seen the population of homeless people in Arvada increase in the past couple of years; something that most people in Arvada don’t seem to think. There’s a pretty good homeless population in Arvada and it’s growing”, said Arvada Food Bank Feeding the Future program manager Rocky Baldassare.
Empty Bowls is a way to positively affect the food bank and the families it supports but with the homeless having risen almost four percent since the last count in 2016, the food bank is struggling to find the help it needs.
“We’re overwhelmed”, said Baldassare. “There’s just so much going on. Holidays are particularly hard because last week was Thanksgiving, so the weekend before that, we made Thanksgiving boxes. Over eight hundred boxes that we distributed to families over the Saturday, the 18th of November”.
Arvada High School that knows all too well that homelessness does not stop for the holidays, with 65 homeless families now in attendance.
“There’s lots of families in need right now and it’s the season for giving”, said parent Wade Sulter.
Empty Bowls is more than just a charity event; it’s also a means of personal motivation. Not having enough money is something that the staff at Arvada High School faces as well. Art teacher Ciara Pias, is familiar with money problems.
“As someone who’s had to choose between a phone bill and feeding your family, I know how it feels to need donations,” said Pias.
The food bank is a long-term problem as well as a long-term solution. While many families are currently struggling to get the support they need, there are some that have been able to get back on their feet.
“Our goal is to eventually shut down. Not due to the fact that we can’t fund ourselves or whatever it may be, but that nobody needs our help anymore” said Baldassare.
Some students and families who have benefited from the food bank in the past have been inspired to aid others in getting back on their feet.
“I want to give back and help them as much as they helped me”, said senior Richard Romkee.
Arvada does many fundraisers that students use to pay for school fees, physicals, and more. However, Empty Bowls is one of the few that does something to better aid families in the area.
“It (Empty Bowls) publicly raises the opinion of Arvada High School because it’s here and it’s such a beneficial thing for the community. It raises awareness about the school”, said parent Angela Jewey.