By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Beautiful new pottery to raise money for the hungry.
You might say that it took a pottery class to get Temecula Valley High School students, teachers, parents and the surrounding community all fired up for a good cause — fighting hunger.
Students and other volunteers worked at an assembly-line pace in Tom Brown’s pottery class for more than four months to meet the goal of creating bowls for a March 11 fundraiser. A total of 700 colorful bowls — some made on the wheel and some by hand — were filled with soup and sold for $10 apiece. Support poured in — the event raised $7,000, which was donated to the Temecula Community Pantry, the Temecula-Murrieta Rescue Mission, and victims of the Haiti earthquake.
It was no easy feat for the students, who spent a few months learning how to “throw” bowls on the wheel, create coil ones by hand, and glaze them. Sometimes their creations did not survive the firing process, and they learned to cope with setbacks.
“My students practiced and practiced and practiced, and every week their bowls got better and better,” says Brown with pride. “We in Temecula are fortunate to be teaching the best kids ever. They were so excited to be involved and responded in such a large way. They never stopped working from the day I mentioned it.”
The concept of Empty Bowls is a grassroots effort to raise money for the hungry. It began with an event at a high school in North Carolina and has spread across the United States and beyond, raising millions of dollars for anti-hunger organizations.
The idea took hold at the campus a year ago when En¬glish teacher Meline Akashian asked Brown to sponsor an Empty Bowls fundraiser and he agreed. Then culinary arts teacher Jean Brown asked if she could pitch in by obtaining donations of food, bread and other items from local restaurants and catering companies.
The enthusiasm of the three Temecula Valley Educators Association members quickly caught on with students, who offered to serve meals, sell bowls and assist as needed. The teens posted a promotional video on YouTube, and created a Facebook page and a website to publicize the event www.tvhs1.tvusd.k12.ca.us. As the deadline loomed closer, others in the community visited Brown’s classroom after school and on weekends to make bowls, including elementary school students and parents. Even the school’s principal, Rani Goyal, made a few bowls.
Twelfth-graders working feverishly to complete their bowls on the last day of production took a few moments to reflect on the project that has united the school and community and what it has meant to them.
“It’s given me the opportunity to be creative and do something that has a real purpose,” relates Alexis Thrift, a senior. “It’s fun and also good to help others, which makes it very worthwhile.”
“It’s good to be involved in this really amazing charity event,” says Chantelle Mar¬chand.
“I’ve made 35 bowls and helped the homeless,” says Kyle Amposta. “I’ve had fun, too, and it’s always good to get your hands dirty.”
As the last pot moved into the kiln, Brown gave his students kudos for a job well done. “You learned how to work independently and how to mass-produce. This was square on your shoulders, and you did an awesome job.”
To learn more about Empty Bowls, check out www.emptybowls.com.