In its first two years, Arcadia University’s Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner served only a few dozen guests. They convened in a small room and ate from Styrofoam bowls instead of the colorful, handmade ceramic dishes that have become hallmarks of the annual event.
Thanks to the hard work of generations of volunteers and Arcadia’s Office of Community Service, the tradition has grown in reach and impact, drawing nearly 900 people to Grey Towers Castle on Nov. 18 to dine on food donated by local restaurants.
“I loved seeing all the alumni who came back to help,” said Cindy Rubino, coordinator of the Office of Community Service. “The people greeting guests at the front door and the people serving food included alumni—this is something they’re committed to.”
Proceeds from this year’s event—about $12,000—went to Interfaith Hospitality Network, a nonprofit organization that responds to the homeless and hungry in Philadelphia, and Heifer International, which is using its half of the funds to support those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Additionally, donations of nonperishable food items were passed on to Aid for Friends, which assists home-bound individuals in need.
Leading up to the dinner, a record number of people created handcrafted bowls. Local artisans, residents at senior centers, and more than 300 students and faculty from Arcadia and nearby high schools volunteered their time and creativity to the cause. Two days before the event, Arcadia’s men’s lacrosse team and members of the Student Government Organization washed more than 1,000 bowls.
“I think the Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner is so important because of the community it builds,” said Stephanie Oddi ’15, a volunteer who helped organize the event. “It brings together students in a humongous way, and it brings together the Glenside community.”
Story JEN RETTER ’16 | Photos RYAN CARRY ’16 | Video DEANNA HAASZ ’15