'Empty Cups' at PHS to fight hunger

'Empty Cups' fundraiser at PHS to benefit fight against hunger
Posted on 02/16/2024
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Piscataway High School is hosting an event where people whose cups runneth over are able to help those who are in need.

Anyone who attends the “Empty Cups” fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 24, will be asked to purchase a ceramic mug made by a PHS student or staff member for $10 and have it filled with their choice of coffee, tea, or cocoa. All proceeds will benefit Feeding Middlesex County, which supports over 150 food pantries in all communities in the county.

The event is being organized by PHS art teacher Mary Wartenburg, who enlisted her students’ help in designing, firing, and painting the beautiful ceramic mugs.


“Their reaction has been really great,” she said. “I introduce it and say that we’re going to do something charitable and give back, and they’re all very responsive. And when I ask, they’re extremely willing to help.”

students painting mugs

Students can also purchase their cup, but if they do, they have to make another one to sell the day of the event, which will be held 2 to 4 p.m. in the school’s Patton Cafeteria. Student and staff volunteers will also sell baked goods and artwork, and the event will feature face-painting and art activities for children.

Anyone who can’t attend the event but wants to buy a mug can email Wartenburg at [email protected].

Wartenburg hosted Empty Cups twice before the COVID-19 pandemic and raised $1,200 each time. “Empty Cups” is a twist on the theme of “Empty Bowls,” a grass-roots movement within the arts community to help alleviate hunger, in which events sometimes offer bowls of soup.

mugs in classroom

“I always found that Empty Bowls concept intriguing,” Wartenburg said. “And I wanted to help people, especially in our community.”

She said working to help others or to support a charity has a positive effect on her students. It also teaches them about the problem of hunger and food insecurity, and about the work of organizations like Feeding Middlesex County.

“And some may struggle with that themselves,” Wartenburg said, “so it lets them know there’s help out there.”

student holding finished mug