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Wednesday, 01 March 2006 00:00

Waynesville students use art class to help raise money for soup kitchen

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By Michael Beadle

Art class is not just a place to make art for yourself — sometimes it’s a place to help those who are less fortunate.

“We need to help the homeless people,” said Hunter Creson, a fifth grader at Central Elementary School.

Creson and his classmates have been decorating ceramic bowls in art class, tracing and then painting designs such as stars, hearts and triangles with glaze paint. The bowls will be kiln-fired and then put on display to be sold at the annual Empty Bowl fund-raising event for the Open Door Soup Kitchen in Waynesville’s Frog Level community.

For the fifth year in a row, local potters, artists, and church and community leaders are organizing the fundraiser, which will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 4. Each bowl costs $15, which also buys you coffee or tea and a warm dinner of soup and cornbread.

About 600 bowls will be on sale. Among the potters and pottery studios participating in this year’s event are Mud Dabbers, Burr Studio, Good Earth, Fiery Gizzard, Riverwood Pottery, Treehouse Pottery, A Different Drummer, and Haywood Community College’s production and crafts program. Waynesville guitarist and songwriter Mike Campbell will provide live music throughout the afternoon and evening.

Proceeds and donations from the Empty Bowl event have helped raise several thousands of dollars for the soup kitchen — about $8,000 last year.

“It’s a good fund raiser to help people that need it,” said Elizabeth Walt, a fifth-grader at Central Elementary. Walt designed her bowl with purple stars and hearts.

Phillip Johnston, a potter at Mud Dabbers Pottery and Crafts and an organizer for the Empty Bowl events, donated about 50 ceramic bowls this year to Central Elementary art teacher Nicole Wilhelm. During the two weeks leading up to the Empty Bowl, Wilhelm offered teachers, students and parents a chance to paint their very own bowls and donate or purchase them for the fund-raising event.

Wilhelm first learned about getting students involved in the Empty Bowl while student teaching in neighboring Buncombe County. There are similar Empty Bowl fund-raising events in cities all over the United States.

This will be the third year that Central Elementary students and staff have helped decorate bowls for the Empty Bowl. With the sales of these bowls, the school has helped raise between $300 and $400 each year.

Central Elementary gets volunteer help and funding from local community groups like the Kiwanis Club, so Wilhelm said it was natural to return the favor and have teachers, students and parents from the school give back to the community. She also explained that it’s helpful to show young students how art lessons can move beyond the classroom.

“Part of the lesson in this,” she said, “is making art for an audience other than themselves.”

For more information about the Empty Bowl fund-raising event, call the Open Door Soup Kitchen at 828.452.3846 or Mud Dabbers Pottery and Crafts at 828.456.1916.

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