Sections    Monday July 23rd, 2018
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Students continue mission to combat hunger in local neighborhoods


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  • Gabrielle Olson/Tempe Elementary School District

Tempe Elementary Student Making A Bowl To Give Back To The Community. Photo Courtesy Tempe Elementary School District

During this season of giving, it is important to think not only of our family and friends, but to also look at our surrounding communities and consider ways we can help improve the livelihood of others.

Since 2002, Tempe Elementary students have been making a direct impact on the nearly 40,000 Tempe residents living in poverty by participating in Tempe Empty Bowls, a service project that helps fight poverty and hunger in the Tempe area.

For the first time ever, all TD3 elementary schools and two middle schools are participating in this important project. Over 280 classrooms in 16 schools District-wide are contributing to the project – that is approximately 7,000 ceramic pieces anticipated to help defeat hunger in local communities!

Tempe Elementary Fine Arts Coordinator Pat Burdette said, “Understandably every year more and more teachers and schools participate! It’s such a great project for such a deserving cause. Teachers are teaching art. Students are creating with clay. Whole schools are coming together to learn about hunger in our community and then taking action to fight it.”

Empty Bowls is an international grassroots effort that started when a Michigan art teacher and his students decided to make bowls to raise funds for a food drive in their community.

The basic premise is simple: Potters, craftspeople, educators, and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity.

“I’m glad I can help abate hunger,” said Breanitzy Stewart, fourth-grader at Holdeman, proudly demonstrating her newly acquired vocabulary word. “It’s important to help those in need.”

Tempe’s local event – Tempe Empty Bowls – is a free and fun event that sells various ceramic pieces, including larger bowls made by high school students and adults, smaller pieces made by the local elementary and middle schools, and larger specialty pieces made by local artists. Several years ago, necklaces with mini ceramic bowls were added, made by a local artist and committee member. Event attendees can purchase a bowl for a $10 donation.

Proceeds from the sale of the bowls are split between the Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA) and the United Food Bank. Students have the opportunity to buy back their bowl for $1 during a pre-sale which will take place in their classrooms once bowls are completed.

Thanks to a grant provided by the City of Tempe, Getz Preschool will also be participating in the Tempe Empty Bowls Project this year. Local Artist Sarah deHeij will be working with the students to help them create their own unique bowls.

TD3 received 6,875 pounds of clay, 54 pints of underglaze, and six gallons of clear glossy glaze for students to participate in the project. After hearing about Tempe Elementary’s dedication to Tempe Empty Bowls, Laguna Clay Company generously donated 4,000 pounds of the clay thanks to Marjon Ceramics, Inc. of Phoenix, who notified them of the project.

Cheryl Moss, a PACE teacher at Ward Traditional Academy, led the project at her school. She explained the impact that this project had on her students directly, and the desire they had to make a difference in their community.

“In our lesson before making the bowls, our class discussed the purpose and how it directly benefits others,” said Moss. “It’s amazing how students respond so positively to giving back to their communities.”

Ward PACE Eighth-Grader Reagan Sumrall delicately created a symmetrical design on her bowl with yellow, blue, and seafoam green glaze. This attention to detail is a product of experience as Sumrall is in her fifth year of participating in the Tempe Empty Bowls project.

“I like knowing that I am making a difference through the bowls I make,” said Sumrall. “It’s pretty cool how $1 can help provide five meals through this project.”

This event truly does make an impact in our local community and builds awareness in the leaders of tomorrow. Students who participated in creating ceramic pieces, which were later sold at the event, will forever understand that small acts of kindness and artistry can make a big difference.

Tempe Elementary students’ hand-crafted bowls will be featured at this year’s Tempe Empty Bowls event taking place on February 24 and 25, 2017. For more information about Tempe Empty Bowls, please visit http://www.tempeemptybowls.org/