Mercyhurst University won first place in the “College/Technical School” division of the 2014 Bread Box Awards from the Second Harvest Food Bank for raising the most money to promote awareness for as well as combat hunger.
The Empty Bowls project was largely responsible for Mercyhurst winning the award by raising $4,500 for the Second Harvest Food Bank, which resulted in the food bank being able to buy $76,500 worth of food.
The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwestern Pennsylvania gives Bread Box Awards to finalists in nine categories: Elementary School, Middle School, High School, College/Technical School, Individual, Church, Organization, Big Business, and Small Business. Mercyhurst was the first place winner in the College/Technical School category and was a finalist in the overall category. Lilly Broadcasting won first place overall.
Social Work Club and Art Education Club collaborated through last winter to put on the Empty Bowls event in April. The project relied on the organizational work of the Social Work Club to reach out to local businesses and secure donations of soup and bread. Art Education made the ceramic bowls which were distributed to those who came to the event.
Empty Bowls wasn’t solely responsible for Mercyhurst’s victory. Maggie Switzer, a junior with the Social Work Club, said, “There were other clubs which did projects for Second Harvest, which were included [in the amount of money raised by the university].”
“Mercyhurst Farm also donates food to Second Harvest,” Michelle Ahrens, also junior with the Social Work Club, said, giving further examples of how Mercyhurst helped the food bank.
Empty Bowls also increased Second Harvest’s interest in Mercyhurst. According to Michelle, “they called a meeting at the end of the year, because they want to do it every year, and they wanted to get Second Harvest more involved in the event.”
The Art Education Club also donated a significant amount of time to the project, and helped coordinate donations from other places, such as Collegiate Academy and Mercyhurst Prep. Sabrina VanTine, a junior in the Art Education club, was pleased to see how much the community volunteered for Second Harvest. “We got to see our work pay off,” she said. “We gave them a lot of help.”
Empty Bowls is not solely a Mercyhurst initiative. It is a national event which takes place in communities across the US. The event was successful as well in encouraging others to continue volunteering within the event. Sabrina said she would “absolutely” do it again if able.