Ashland Empty Bowl

Shown is a small sampling of the 400-plus bowls that have been created locally by students, community members and artists for the Ashland Empty Bowl hunger awareness program which will be held in conjunction with Drifting Through the Arts event on Monday evening.

Anyone looking for something to do on Monday night has an opportunity to enjoy a nice waterfront walk and a bowl of soup with bread in a handmade bowl, all with the added benefit of helping out their community by attending two events the Ashland Empty Bowl and Drifting Through the Arts.

The Ashland Empty Bowl is a hunger awareness program and fundraiser for local food agencies.

“All of the funds raised for the event will be split between the Ashland B.R.I.C.K., the Bad River Emergency Food Shelf and the Ashland Cares Backpack food program,” said Ashland High School Art & Design Instructor and Ashland Empty Bowl event coordinator Danielle Penney-Edwards.

Penney-Edwards said that Ashland students in fourth through eighth grades and students enrolled in high school Art & Design courses made the bowls while community members and local artists contributed additional bowls.

“Then I also went to OLL [Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School] after school to do bowls with kids and parents that wanted to,” she said, adding that they’ve made well over 400 bowls for the event.

“We give them the opportunity to buy the bowl, if they want to ensure that they get their bowl,” she said. “At OLL, everyone bought their bowl – minus like three people – so already at OLL we raised over 300 bucks.”

Penney-Edwards said that Middle School Art & Design Instructor Jeanne Pearce has also been selling them as they come out.

“If they want to keep it, they can just buy it in advance because it’s so much easier. There is no way that we would be able to say, ‘OK, you come to the event and we’ll find your bowl for you.’ That’s just not possible,” said Penney-Edwards. “I think we’ve probably raised close to $1,000 bucks if not more already.”

Penney-Edwards said their goal is to raise as much money as they possibly can and that she, Pearce and Elementary Art & Design instructors Joni Chapman and Bob Graf have been explaining to the students what the project is all about

“Basically we’re using art as social justice to have kids help and be a part of change in their community,” she said.

Penney-Edwards said that while the Hungry Bowls concept isn’t new, this is the first year that the Art & Design Department has collaborated.

“At the middle school, they did one last year with paper bowls,” she said, adding that they served the soup out of regular bowls and then people got to keep their paper bowls.

Penney-Edwards noted that this year all of the bowls are ceramic and she noted that for many of the students, it was their first time working with clay.

“I’ve done it previously when I worked in Washburn a while ago and when Northland did theirs,” she said. “I started by just donating to Northland’s Empty Bowl but they don’t do one anymore so my goal is I would like to get them onboard.”

Penney-Edwards said they had raised well over $1,500 when they had the Empty Bowl event in Washburn.

“The concept of Empty Bowl was actually developed by kids who were looking to raise money for a hunger fundraiser in their community in Michigan,” she said. “They worked with their teacher and came up with the concept of Empty Bowl and from that grew this meal. And so if you use the term “Empty Bowl” all your monies need to go to hunger organizations, either within your community or within the world somewhere … They can’t be used for other things if you use that word.”

Ashland’s Empty Bowl will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hotel Chequamegon, 101 W. Lake Shore Drive.

For $10, people will be served a simple meal of soup and bread and folks get to keep the handmade bowl as a reminder that someone’s bowl is always empty in our own community.

“So far, we have soup donations from the following restaurants — El Dorado, Culver’s, Ashland Family Restaurant, Buddies Burgers, Breakwater, Deepwater, Northland College’s Chartwell’s Catering — and the Ashland Middle School FACE program has made soup with their teacher Jenny Todus for the event,” Penney-Edwards said. “We will have a wonderful selection of soup including traditional favorites, gluten free and vegan options.”

Penney-Edwards added that Ashland Super One Foods also donated flour and oil so they could make homemade bread for the event.

Ashland High School band director and Drifting Through the Arts event coordinator Chris Hulmer explained that Drifting Through the Arts would begin at 5:30 p.m., not 6 p.m. as listed on the posters.

“We will also stop the Drifting Through the Arts at 7 p.m. so they both [events] will end at the same time,” she said. “We have normally had this event in June but wanted to have it coincide with the Empty Bowl Project this year.”

Hulmer explained that students would be positioned along the Ashland Lake Walk doing Forensic readings to entertain the public.

“And we will have students who will do musical numbers for your enjoyment, too,” she said, adding that there also would be artwork displays. “A person attending this event should start walking at the Pearson Plaza and proceed east. Stop and enjoy the performances, view student's work and carry on till you get to the Hotel Chequamegon where you can enjoy a bowl of soup and help support our area food shelves.”

Penney-Edwards said attending these events would be a good way for people to help their community.

“You never know when you’re going to need resources like this,” she said. “I know that many people … that were formally donating to organizations like this ended up using them just because the economy changed and people lost jobs or parts of jobs so just being aware of your neighbor.”

Penney-Edwards said it’s a very positive thing and is good for all those involved plus kids get to see that they can make a difference and essentially get to see people pay money for their art.

“[We’re] just trying to do something good for the community using art and having kids involved,” Penney-Edwards said. “It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, you can make a difference.”

For more information regarding Drifting Through the Arts, contact Hulmer at 715-682-7089.

For more information regarding Ashland Empty Bowl or if you are interested in helping out on the day of the event or being involved with future Empty Bowl events, contact Penney-Edwards at 715-682-7089 ext. 1258 or email her at

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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