Aspen Community School’s “Empty Bowls” continues a tradition of soup and fundraising |

Aspen Community School’s “Empty Bowls” continues a tradition of soup and fundraising

Virtual soup shebang raises funds for Lift-Up

It may not be the usual shebang at Bumps, but this year’s “Empty Bowls” fundraiser hosted by the Aspen Community School was still filled with music, hand-painted bowls and plenty of soup to share Wednesday evening on Zoom.

This year marks the 17th iteration of the event, in which students paint ceramic bowls in art class and collect donations for local food nonprofit Lift-Up, a food bank based in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“I feel really honored that there was a lot of interest to continue the tradition, and I’m really impressed with our community — the Aspen Community School — and everybody’s excitement for the event and their willingness to try something new,” said Hilary Forsyth, an art teacher at Aspen Community School and event organizer.

Forsyth, Aspen Middle School art teacher Rae Lampe and Aspen Country Day School art teacher Paula Ponto launched the fundraiser in 2005 as a way to unite the three schools and raise awareness of hunger through art.

Typically all three schools participate, but just Aspen Community School hosted this year in part due to the logistical constraints of a COVID-era virtual event, Forsyth said in a phone call.

The soup came in make-at-home packets this year for the virtual format. Fundraising took place online at the Aspen Community School website and organizers are still accepting donations. Organizers have already met their $1,500 goal and will have an update on the donation total some time Thursday, Forsyth wrote in an email after the event. They will continue to accept donations through Sunday.

All 136 students at Aspen Community School made a bowl this year; the school also had nearly five dozen extra bowls that sold this year, according to Forsyth.

“It was a great event, but we’re so honored that we found a way to make it happen again this year,” said Casey White, principal of Aspen Community School.

“Empty Bowls” is a nationwide initiative led by artists and craftspeople to raise funds for local food organizations and bring greater awareness to hunger. After participants finish their meals, the bowls serve as a reminder that others still face empty bowls.

“We need it now more than ever,” White said.

“If kids can feel empowered to take action by making a bowl, that filters through.”

The bowls are “a reminder of the purpose of making art to help others,” Forsyth said. Just as the tradition carries on year after year, the excitement continues, too.

“It gives them a feeling of pride,” she said.

The school is accepting donations for Lift-Up at; since the event has concluded, donors should only use the “Other” option to enter an amount.

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