by Jeffrey Matthews '14
Long after the bells of Saint Peter’s Episcopal church had been rung Sunday morning October 27th, a group of Bennington students set decorations and place settings, creating a quaint, but energetic dining hall, for what continues to be a much anticipated annual event for the Bennington community. The “Empty Bowls” dinner is a community centered event; for a donation of $10 or more, volunteers emphatically keep soup bowls filled with edible delights. Guests even get to keep their handmade bowls, all of which were crafted by local children, artisans, and families. "Local" was the spirit of the day, with all of the soup being donated by local businesses. The entire hurrah was as “Bennington” as one can imagine. The Greater Bennington Interfaith Community hosts this evening every fall to raise money and awareness for starving families in the region. This year, the lively occasion was a great success. It drew in people from a large swath of the Bennington community including state representative Brian Campion.
In preparation for the event, there was a palpable air of collaboration at the college, as students and staff gave a quality effort with generous support coming from folks such as Matthew Scott of Student Life and Campus Safety. In total, thirteen Bennington students spent six and a half hours hanging banners, setting tables, getting ice, serving food, washing dishes and answering questions. Aramark themselves prepared and donated 15 gallons of soup to the event. Kerry McGuire, director of the Student Center and Mike Crane and Marshall Ogert of the Dining Hall provided their share of assistance, even sourcing the soup ingredients locally. The college should be proud to say that this year, Bennington students were well represented at Empty Bowls.
By helping with Empty Bowls, the College took another step towards bettering relations with the greater Bennington Community. The college’s presence even generated further volunteering opportunities with organizations such as Meals on Wheels. The volunteers had a blast and they are all looking forward to the next chance to get involved, to do some good, to get out and off the hill. Bennington students should never forget that with a little tenacity and group spirit, a lot of good can be accomplished locally.