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Project hopes to fill shelves at Siena/Francis House

When an art project and a service project come together, fulfilling things can happen.

Empty BowlsThat’s the message at the heart of Creighton University’s seventh Empty Bowls Project, which pairs ceramics students from the Department of Fine and Performing Arts with the Siena/Francis House homeless shelter in Omaha. Students create artful ceramic bowls, most in the $5-$10 range, that can be purchased along with a soup-and-bread meal courtesy of Sodexo and Rotella’s Bakery. All proceeds benefit the homeless shelter. The public is welcome to attend.

This year’s Creighton Empty Bowls Project will take place with a supper program on Dec. 6 from 4 to 8 p.m., and a lunch program Dec. 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Both meals will take place in the Lied Art Gallery at the Lied Education Center for the Arts at 24th and Cass streets, on the Creighton campus. Parking for both events is located in the lot just west of the Lied Education Center for the Arts, accessible via Cass Street. After 5 p.m., the upper level of the parking structure on 24th Street will also be available for public parking.

Since introducing the program at Creighton in 2006, associate professor Amy Nelson, MFA, and her students, have raised more than $33,000 for hunger relief in the Omaha area.

“The level of student commitment to the project has been astounding,” Nelson said. “It still amazes me how effortlessly and enthusiastically Creighton students dedicate their time and creative energy to something they are giving away.”

The cornerstone of the CU Empty Bowls Project is the service-learning course Arts and Civic Engagement. The students work in a communal environment both inside and outside the classroom in partnership with the Siena/Francis House Homeless Shelter. Through a hands-on approach, students learn the value of labor and its creative application to real-world situations. Every bowl purchased serves as a reminder that even the smallest efforts can support positive social change.

The Empty Bowls Project at Creighton is also part of a national program of the same name, originating at a high school in Michigan in 1990. The same simple premise: make bowls, offer a meal, and donate the proceeds to a local food bank or homeless shelter, has prevailed to the tune of raising millions to combat hunger around the world.

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