Ask Not What Your (Community) Can Do For You...

Three years ago, while at the Beer Cheese Festival in Winchester I saw signs that an absolute auction would be taking place for one of the buildings on North Main Street. When we invested in that property later that month, we did so knowing that we were not just investing our money towards our business but to create a platform in which we could give back to our downtown and community as a whole. Dirty South Pottery is designed to be a source of good; quality products, exposure to fine arts to the citizens, and also a way for us to get involved in giving back.

With a charitable idea in mind, we have donated items over the past few years to many auctions and gift basket giveaways which support an array of causes. Our main philanthropy is Empty Bowls in association with The Presbyterian Church, in which we donate 300 handmade bowls (over $5,000 worth of revenue at our store prices) to raise money for Clark County Community Services to help feed the hungry in our community. We work all year to make the bowls, which we deliver the day before the event.

However, after giving our pottery out to various organizations over the last few years, the act seemed to start feeling different. We have so many inquiries that we ended up setting a limit for this year so that we wouldn’t lose track and over-donate past our means - this limit for the year was maxed out by February. The amount of last-minute hand out inquiries started wearing thin with me, in association with the sorrow I felt that organizations who we truly believe in have missed out on a donation due to our limit. I also felt detached from the donation, having only ever spoken to a representative who picked up the goods for auction.

There was a disconnect between us, the makers and the givers, and the communal good that we were donating our time and art to create. Could there be a better way to approach this that would help us help more people, while also creating a sense of community that we are looking for?


In the South when a group of friends or family will come together to break bread, oftentimes they will all bring one dish each to contribute to the meal. In doing so, the collective group ensures that no single person has to provide a lot but that every person leaves full. Meals like this create a sense of gathering, community and conversation that catered meals lack. These gatherings are called ‘potlucks’, and they are my favorite type of party.

With this line of thinking, we have created PotLuck; a small batch box series that will feature quality handmade and local items that support small businesses in the Bluegrass. Each box will be associated with a different charitable cause; from non-profits, to local initiatives, to environmental causes that keep our state shining. At least 15% of the proceeds from the sales will go to that charity, though the percentage may go up depending upon the items in the box set.

We will be discontinuing direct donations to fundraisers, auctions, and any other product or service-based donation. - with the exception of our work with Empty Bowls, of course. What we are hoping to accomplish from this is to make a greater effect on the charities that plan ahead, mindfully reach out early, align with our business values and make an impact in our local community (statewide at the largest).

Our first box set will be a Father's Day Themed box, released in early June and will go to help support The Engine House Deli renovations here in downtown Winchester. While we want to focus most-to-all of our donations towards non-profits, we are starting this box series with an exception to the rule. The restaurant is a main gathering place in our downtown area, and has been here in one way or another for decades. This cause is near and dear to our hearts as it has a place in so many of our collective memories. Read more about it here.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see sneak peeks at the boxes as they are coming together. For first dibs on the boxes, sign up for our mailing list (either on the right hand side of this blog ----> or in the pop up when you first come to our website)- they will be getting the first notification of the boxes being posted online. Once the boxes are gone, that will be it. We will have a local pickup option for those in town wishing to avoid shipping costs as well!

If you run or have ties to a charitable cause that you would like to see benefit from one of our boxes, please email us to tell us about your organization! Again, we will be looking for causes that align with our company’s sense of community pride, environmental awareness, and social concerns. The contributions will start out small, but we are hopeful in our ambition to grow the batches in the coming months to be able to contribute more to each charity.

We are so thrilled to be trying a new angle on giving, and hope that it will bring us closer to the causes that make our community (city, state, and region) a shinier place to live.

Ashley Norman

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