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It Takes a Village

By Jeff Eason (

Article Published: Mar. 27 | Modified: Mar. 30
It Takes a Village

From left, WHS students Andrew Harrelson, Rachel Greene and John Vollmer have put in countless hours of work organizing this year’s Empty Bowls dinner.
Photos by Jeff Eason

For the 13th year in a row, dozens of people in our community have come together to create the Empty Bowls dinner.

Held this Saturday at Watauga High School, the charity dinner is the culmination of months of hard work by students, artists, locally owned restaurants and others to raise money for the Health and Hunger Coalition.

Empty Bowls offers the public the opportunity to purchase a handmade ceramic bowl filled with homemade soup, freshly baked bread, beverage and dessert for a minimum donation of $15. The event also includes a silent auction, live music and a student art display.

The 13th annual Empty Bowls dinner will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, in the commons area (main floor) of Watauga High School.

This year’s event has been organized by WHS students Andrew Harrelson, Rachel Greene and John Vollmer. In addition to organizing the dinner, the group has solicited area businesses for donations for the silent auction and created publicity for the event.

The Menu

At this year’s dinner, Stick Boy Bread Company will provide French, honey wheat and spinach feta dinner rolls.

The WHS ProStart II and Advanced Food II classes will make broccoli cheddar soup.

Restaurants participating in this year’s Empty Bowls dinner are Casa Rustica (Italian basil minestrone soup), Pepper’s (potato soup), Stick Boy Kitchen (tomato basil soup), Woodland’s Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor (Brunswick stew), Troy’s 105 Diner (Troy’s traditional chili), The Speckled Trout Café (clam chowder) and FARM Café (corn-leek-basil soup). Bare Essentials, a longtime silent auction contributor, is providing reverse osmosis natural water and iced tea.

Parents from the Friends of Watauga High School organization are providing homemade desserts.

Silent Auction

The Empty Bowls silent auction features dozens of items, ranging from gift certificates to area restaurants to original artwork. This year, as in years past, the silent auction will feature original pottery donated by Appalachian State University’s craft enrichment program.

“The ASU Michael Patricelli Craft Enrichment Program folks have been so important to WHS Empty Bowls over the past 13 years,” said Whit Whitaker, pottery instructor at WHS. “Many of the individuals who have taken the ceramics classes began donating bowls through the class, and most continue to do so.

“My good friend of 35-plus years, Lucy Hamilton, and more recent friend Maggie Black are accomplished professional potters and instructors in the craft enrichment program. Lucy started the ‘Composite Teapot Challenge,’ which has become a well known silent auction table favorite, generating significant contributions to Empty Bowls. Maggie’s class is doing it this year.”

The Composite Teapot Challenge has potters making four teapot parts: body, handle, lid and spout. Numbers are randomly drawn to see which body parts will be matched with other potters’ parts. All parts must be from different sets, and no one is allowed to have any of the same parts from any teapot, such as matching spout and body.

Each potter is then required to create a functional teapot from his or her four random parts. Modifications are allowed in order to make the parts fit each other, but no new pieces can be created to make it work. The pots are then decorated and glaze fired.

Empty Bowls

Hannah Whitaker, Whit and Mary Kent Whitaker’s daughter, had the original idea to bring Empty Bowls to WHS 13 years ago after reading about a similar program in the Midwest.

The basic idea for the fundraiser is that students create and collect ceramic bowls, donated soups and bread from area potters and restaurants. Community guests make a minimum $15 donation to buy a bowl of soup, some bread and a dessert and get to keep the bowl as a reminder of the Empty Bowls dinner, where they contributed to helping hungry people in their community.

Hunger and Health Coalition

The Hunger and Health Coalition helps underprivileged people in the High Country through a variety of programs, including the Food Pantry Program, Food Recovery Program, The Market, Healthy Start for Kids, Snacks for Scholars and the Back Pack Program.

The mission of the Hunger and Health Coalition is to relieve poverty and hunger in a compassionate manner for families and individuals who are experiencing economic hardship and food shortages.
This assistance may include food, medicine and referrals to other community resources.

The Hunger and Health Coalition meets emergency needs, while acting as a community resource assisting those in need to find a more permanent solution.

More Information

The local Empty Bowls dinner will take place this Saturday, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., at Watauga High School, located at 300 Go Pioneers Drive in Boone.

For more information, call (828) 264-2407, or email (

Additional Images

From left, WHS students Andrew Harrelson, Rachel Greene and John Vollmer have put in countless hours of work organizing this year’s Empty Bowls dinner.
Photos by Jeff Eason

Watauga High School senior Courtney Latham uses a wire to remove a newly formed clay bowl off of a potter’s wheel. The bowl will later be fired, glazed and fired again before becoming one of the pieces sold for charity at this Saturday’s Empty Bowls dinner.

An assortment of newly made bowls are ready for this weekend’s Empty Bowls dinner at WHS.

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