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Helping Hands for the Hungry

Article Published: Mar. 15, 2012 | Modified: Mar. 25, 2012
Helping Hands for the Hungry

WHS art student Liam Knight throws a bowl on the wheel in anticipation of the school’s 11th annual Empty Bowls dinner.

Photo submitted

Every March for the past 11 years, students at Watauga High School have raised money for the Hunger and Health Coalition through their Empty Bowls dinner.

This year’s event is scheduled for 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, at the high school’s common area (main floor). Tickets are $15 per person.

Each year, it seems as if a new wrinkle is added to the event to help attract more people and raise more money. This year, art students in Lori Fowler-Hill’s class have created ceramic figurines, which will be used as table decorations and then sold for $10 apiece.

This week, the figurines, which stand about 12 inches high, were painted and fired in the ceramics department’s kiln.

“I suspect many of these figurines will be purchased by the parents of the students who made them,” Fowler-Hill said.

Students in the ceramics department have been creating bowls for the Empty Bowls dinner since the beginning of the year. On the night of the event, diners will pick out their bowl and enjoy a simple meal of soup and bread, keeping their bowl as a memento of the evening and a reminder that many people in the community struggle to put food on the table.

In addition to the ceramic bowls made by high school art students, there are also bowls created by elementary and middle school students in Dacia Trethewey and Jill Huffman’s art classes, as well as some created by local artisans.

“Every year, I look forward to coming up with something new,” said Maggie Black, a professional potter who teaches adults at the Michael Patricelli Crafts Enrichment Center and also maintains her own studio at the Shops at Mill Ridge in Foscoe. “This year, I’m glazing my bowls with tiny zebra stripes of different colored glazes.”

According to WHS ceramics instructor Whit Whitaker, Empty Bowls also receives contributions from former students.

“Brett McDonough, Daniel Watson and Willie Hicks are some of the students who came to me and asked if they could make bowls or silent auction items for Empty Bowls,” Whitaker said. “There are other professionals in the area, such as Bob Meier and Steve Williams, and potters like physical therapist Jeff Carter and Dr. Mark Murrey, who donate every year.”

In addition to the soup, bread and dessert at the Empty Bowls dinner, the event will include live music from musician Cecil Gurganus and a number of WHS students, including Dana Landress and Mia Yarborough. The band will perform string band music, bluegrass and Americana tunes.

Also featured will be members from WHS chorus, orchestra and jazz band.

There will also be a short performance by the Watauga Playmakers, whose stage act, “Seussical: The Musical,” will be in full swing that weekend.

Visual art students at WHS are getting into the act by creating placemats and other decorations for the event. Senior art student Abby Harrelson designed the poster for this year’s event, utilizing a photo of a bowl created by an elementary school teacher.

“I love Abby’s poster design,” WHS visual arts instructor Shelton Wilder said. “The angle of the bowl in the photo suggests that the hands could be giving the food or receiving the food. It’s a unique point of view.”

The Menu

Stick Boy Bread Company will once again provide the bread for the Empty Bowls dinner, including French, honey wheat and spinach feta rolls.

The Watauga High School classes of ProStart II and Advanced Foods II will create a broccoli cheddar soup.

Other soups will be brought in from area restaurants, including Italian basil minestrone soup from Casa Rustica, potato soup from Pepper’s Restaurant, curry butternut squash soup from Melanie’s Food Fantasy, Brunswick stew from Woodland’s Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor, Troy’s traditional chili from Troy’s Diner, roasted chicken mushroom crème soup from The Speckled Trout Café and tarragon, rosemary and mushroom soup from the FARM Café.

The WHS parents organization Friends of Watauga will provide homemade desserts of all kinds.

Origin of Empty Bowls

In 1990, a high school art teacher in Michigan helped his students solve a problem. They were searching for ways to raise funds to support a food drive. What evolved was a class project to make ceramic bowls for a fundraising meal. Guests were served a simple meal of soup and bread and were invited to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world.

By the following year, the originators had developed this concept into Empty Bowls, a project to provide supporters for soup kitchens, food banks and other organizations that fight hunger.

The Imagine/RENDER Group, a nonprofit organization, was created to promote the project. Since then, Empty Bowls events have been held throughout the world, and millions of dollars have been raised to combat hunger.

Last year, Watauga High School’s Empty Bowls dinner raised a record $7,100 and has provided $47,100 to the Hunger and Health Coalition over the last 10 years.

For more information, call Watauga High School at (828) 264-2407.

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