Balls for a Cause: Ampersand Project Fundraiser Reimagines Bowling Balls

A fundraiser to support the Ampersand Pantry Project is casting bowling balls in an artistic light.

The Ampersand Pantry Project, to date, has donated more than 46,000 meals to families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with cars lining Market Street during lunch hour for free meals, diapers, and other donated items. All along, it’s been donations from the public that have sustained the mission, started by local attorney and the property’s landowner Peter Burnett. Now, a unique fundraiser presents an opportunity for the public to take home a conversation piece while supporting the pantry.

Burnett recalled a recent phone call from Local Wood owners Scott Carpenter and Charlie Beach. The duo recently closed on the purchase of Village Lanes, and renovations there are underway. Carpenter told Burnett they had a contribution they wanted to make to support the pantry.

“He said ‘We’ve got 200 bowling balls for you’,” Burnett said. “I said, ‘huh, how’s that going to make me money?’ I thought, he has to know these things are worthless.”

Turns out, there is a phenomenon called bowling ball art, and a quick Google search showed Burnett the possibilities. The idea was born. Burnett put together a brochure, came up with some prize money, and invited the community to come pick up a bowling ball at the food pantry’s East Market Street site and get creative.

All decorated balls are due back to the pantry by this weekend, and a fundraising sale to the public is planned for Saturday, Oct. 17.

“We think that people would get a kick out of it,” Burnett said.

Local attorney Peter Burnett, the founder of the Ampersand Project, has gotten into the creative spirit himself, with several pieces that will be up for auction, including this custom “disco” ball.

It’s a project that’s had his own creative juices flowing, as Burnett has decorated several balls himself. One, he adorned with mirrors to transform into a classic disco ball. For another piece, he is creating a lamp out of a bowling ball in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Local artist Stilson Greene has done several himself, including one with the likeness of the late John Lennon.

Artists who contribute balls to the auction will be eligible for one of several cash prizes, including the top prize of $1,000.

Burnett said they will use a web-based auction service to show off the balls ahead of the Oct. 17 sale. Remote bidding will be done via the app, which can be found at32auctions.com/ampersand2020.

During the Oct. 17 sale, the balls will be displayed on long tables in the parking space behind the Burnett & Williams office on Loudoun Street. More than 100 balls are expected to be up for bidding.

A tribute to the late John Lennon adorns one of Stilson Greene’s custom bowling balls.

A tribute to the late John Lennon adorns one of Stilson Greene’s custom bowling balls.

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