November 20, 2018 at 12:30pm
Dane Lisser

Millikin art students help raise proceeds for Good Samaritan Inn

The holidays are a time for giving back and helping others, and Millikin University's annual "Empty Chili Bowl" fundraiser meets those credentials by providing community support, at the same time highlighting creativity.

This year's fundraiser was held on Nov. 16 in the Bob and Debi Johnston Banquet Room of the University Commons on Millikin's campus. Millikin art students used their talents to create ceramic chili bowls to sell for $10 a piece with all proceeds benefitting the programs of the Good Samaritan Inn.

Millikin Empty Chili Bowl

Jennifer Holt, assistant professor of art at Millikin, oversaw this year's event. It was her first year involved with the fundraiser following the retirement of art professor James Schietinger who oversaw the Empty Chili Bowl since the beginning.

To say the event was a success would be an understatement. Over 150 chili bowls were made and it took just 25 minutes for each to be sold. Students raised $2,560 for the Good Samaritan Inn.

"We started with 150 bowls and it went very fast," said Holt. "It starts from square one, the students mix the clay from dry materials. The bowls take a lot of time and skill – it's quite a process. The students were really giving of their time for the project."

Millikin Empty Chili Bowl

The public was invited to have chili, regular and vegetarian, as well as drinks and desserts, and enjoy the music of the Millikin Big Bluegrass Band.

Collectively, four students worked on the chili bowls, each making 40 a piece. Among the students was Michael Holmberg, a senior studio art major from Decatur, Ill., who has previously volunteered at the Good Samaritan Inn.

Millikin Empty Chili Bowl

"When you volunteer, you realize how useful the Good Samaritan Inn is and how much it's needed," said Holmberg. "It's a good experience to realize what you're giving to. It was the biggest and best outcome we've ever had. There's a lot more value to the bowls than just holding chili and I think building a relationship with the Good Samaritan Inn helps itself grow."  

For the students, Holt says the event was all about the act of giving. "I hope that was instilled in the students and I hope the turnout helped to show the students how good it is to give to others," she said.

Millikin Empty Chili Bowl

For the past 20 years, the fundraiser has grown into a popular holiday event around campus and the local community. The event is part of a nationwide movement to raise funds, using art, to benefit people who do not have enough to eat.

It was the sixth year that Millikin partnered with the Good Samaritan Inn – a faith-based, social cause organization that helps improve the lives of those in need in the greater Decatur area. The organization provides nutritious meals every day to the community; provides employment opportunities by offering job training skills in the areas of food preparation, food production and basic construction; and collaborates with community groups to create opportunities to improve the lives of economically disadvantaged neighbors.

Millikin Empty Chili Bowl

Rev. Stacey Brohard, executive director of the Good Samaritan Inn, was impressed with the turnout.

"It was the best support we've ever had for the Empty Chili Bowl," said Brohard. "The event is unique because it brings together the arts community and those who are focused on hunger in Decatur, and we thank everyone for their support.”