Leelanau News and Events

Suttons Bay Art Students Raise $2,900 To Support Local Eateries and Fight Local & Global Hunger

April 19, 2021

Written by Keegan Monroe, 11th Grade, Suttons Bay High School

Getting a community to come together for any reason can be one of the best feelings, but when it helps local businesses and gives art students a fun but purposeful assignment, it’s even better.

Suttons Bay High School and its community are celebrating the success of Suttons Bay Public Schools’ first annual Empty Bowls event. Empty Bowls was started in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, by an art teacher, John Hartom, who wanted “to participate in a local food drive, so he came up with a unique idea—students would craft ceramic bowls, invite the faculty to a soup lunch and request donations.” 

This event has grown into a global mission that many organizations participate in throughout the year.

Suttons Bay Public Schools got its chance to join the Empty Bowls ranks when art teachers Mary Hall and Jessica Vitale collaborated on an art project for the spring 2021 semester that would help their students better understand how to help their local community. Vitale says, “This was the perfect opportunity to create an awareness of world and local hunger for students and how we can make a difference.”

Art students created 84 ceramic bowls which were available for the community to bid upon virtually. Bidding closed Friday and winners were notified yesterday. 

Twenty-five percent of the total proceeds will go to Leelanau Christian Neighbors Food Pantry, which has been equipping the communities within Leelanau county with safe and healthy ways to combat the local hunger for over three decades. The nonprofit provides a friendly face to those in harrowing situations and dependable facilities for food and supplies.

Four Suttons Bay eateries — Lylah’s, VI Grill, Hang-On Express, and the MI Market — helped make the Empty Bowls’ possible, by donating a bowl of soup to the winners of each of the bowls. In turn, fifty percent of total proceeds will be distributed evenly between these restaurants to help go towards any struggles faced during pandemic closures and patron limitations.

And, with the remaining quarter of the proceeds being donated to the World Food Program USA, the Suttons Bay community has the chance to give back beyond its own backyard.

Vitale says Suttons Bay’s Empty Bowls silent auction raised over $2,900 … and counting. “We have given the losing bidders options to donate if desired to do so, so our total amount fundraised may actually be bigger,” she explains. Students will hand-deliver checks to the local businesses and organizations by the end of the month.

Suttons Bay art students thank the over 100 registrants who participated in the auction, Friends Of Fine Arts, Mary Hall (head of the art department), Suttons Bay Public School administration, and Jessica Vitale (event coordinator). The art department looks forward to hosting an even bigger and in-person event in the coming years.

Caption: Llesenia Crisanto, 10th grader, painted a nature motif on her bowl which went to the highest bidder for $200.


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