Full hearts and ‘Empty Bowls’

Long-running soup fundraiser returns to Bumps Wednesday evening

Ceramic bowls line a table at an Aspen "Empty Bowls" fundraiser in 2019.
Rae Lampe/Courtesy photo

What: Empty Bowls fundraiser for Lift-Up

When: Wednesday, 5-7 p.m.

Where: Bumps Restaurant at the base of Buttermilk Ski Area

Donation: $10; includes dinner and a bowl to take home

Aspen Middle School art teacher Rae Lampe is a firm believer in the idea that “art changes people and people can change the world.”

It’s an ethos Lampe hopes to instill in her students at Aspen Middle School with the “Empty Bowls” project, part of a long-running, nationwide initiative to raise funds for local food organizations and bring greater awareness to hunger through soup suppers dished out in handmade ceramic bowls.

Students from Aspen Middle School and Aspen Community School made nearly 400 bowls for this year’s event, which returns to Bumps Restaurant at the base of Buttermilk on Wednesday night for the usual in-person shebang with live music after a virtual iteration last year. (The 2021 event provided the soup in take-home, make-at-home packets; the fundraising online and the festivities were set on Zoom.)

A dozen restaurants and some students’ families contributed food for the soup, bread and dessert meal for the volunteer-staffed fundraiser, Lampe said; the Aspen Thrift Shop also sponsors the event. The event runs from 5-7 p.m. “or until the soup runs out,” Lampe said.

When participants finish their meals, the empty bowls will serve as a reminder for those who still face food scarcity and hunger.

A $10 donation from each attendee goes to the food bank Lift-Up and entitles participants to dinner and a bowl to take home; the in-person events of years past have raised nearly $5,000 in one night, Lampe said.

All are welcome to join.

“We are one valley,” Lampe said. “I love it, coming together. … It’s just a really nice community event.”

Lampe, Aspen Community School art teacher Hilary Forsyth and Aspen Country Day School art teacher Paula Ponto launched the local iteration of Empty Bowls in 2005 to unite the schools and use art as a medium to raise awareness of hunger.

Students from each of the schools have contributed in the past. Only the Aspen Community School hosted last year due to COVID constraints; the Aspen Community School and Aspen Middle School are the two organizing schools this year, according to Lampe.

Lampe also hopes that events such as Empty Bowls and other art-based service projects will remind students of the value of giving and kindness through creativity, especially at a time when so much of the world can feel so divisive.

The premise hearkens to the 1806 definition of “success” in Webster’s Dictionary, Lampe said — not the current definition of wealth, fame or power but rather a model of “being generous, prosperous and kind,” she said.