LaGrange College students paint bowls for Circles of Troup County

Published 4:00 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

LaGrange College students leaned in as they concentrated on painting mandalas, fish, clouds and other designs on ceramic bowls on Tuesday. These bowls were no normal class project, however. On April 11, those bowls will be used to raise funds for Circles of Troup County at the annual Empty Bowls event.

All funds raised at the event benefit Circles of Troup County, a group that aims to identify and eliminate causes of poverty while supporting those who wish to lift themselves out of poverty. More than 20 percent of Troup County residents live below the federal poverty line, which is designated at $23,550 per year for a family of four. Circles looks to use a relational strategy to support both parents and children moving out of poverty, while making an effort to equip the community to reduce the poverty rate.

The student-created bowls make the group’s annual fundraiser — which supports Circles programs to combat that poverty — possible.

“This allows us to do what we do,” said Sherri Brown, the director of Circles of Troup County. “We could not do what we do at this event without them.”

The painting portion of the event has drawn students to take part for years, and some students even volunteer with Circles.

“[The students] have been pretty engaged throughout the whole process,” said Austin Wieland, professor of ceramics at LaGrange College. “Most of our advanced students — juniors and seniors — have helped out each year with the event. So, they are throwing, decorating, helping glaze. They are pretty involved throughout the whole process. Even if they don’t make the bowls, they end up helping somewhere along the line.”

This year, the fundraiser will expand to include both lunch and dinner portions, in order to meet the high demand for tickets that organizers have seen for the Empty Bowl dinners in the past.

“It is a unique fundraiser for us, because it is so different,” Brown said. “I think people like to come to something where they can go home with a prize. Yes, we are asking for their support, but we are also sending them home with a reminder that we exist and of what we do. … There are people with empty bowls every day, and we are trying to change that.”

Tickets cost $20 each or $175 for a table and include a handmade bowl to take home, a meal, a silent auction and a competitive game of trivia. For tickets, email