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Youngsters carry on Empty Bowl tradition

By Terri Richardson trichardson@marshallnewsmessenger.com
Jan. 20, 2011 at 5:21 p.m.

J.H. Moore fourth graders glaze their pinch pots at the Michelson Museum of Art.

About 1,300 Northeast Texas fourth-graders helped raise awareness of hunger with a little added "sole" as they participated in the Michelson Museum of Art's 2011 Empty Bowls event.

"It was wonderful to see the response of the fourth-graders to the needs of other people," said Bonnie Strauss, education director for the museum. "I think these days, when you say there are people right around who do not get enough food, even the kids know and it's true and will get quiet when we talk about it."

Taking the solemn subject and making it fun was a project Ms. Strauss and Karen Lowery, artist in residence at the museum, could sink their teeth into and turned it into the "A Bowl with Sole" project for classes. The museum annually has a clay project for children to learn more about the medium and were given a chance this year to make their project go a little farther.

"Each child made a pinch pot, a little bowl during the class, and at the end of the class Karen gave them each a piece of clay to roll in a ball and press into the bottom of their shoe. And as she took them up, she formed them over a bowl shape, and made a bowl from all those little pieces from each child," Ms. Strauss said.

The community effort it takes to tackle a problem like hunger was further emphasized as a symbol in the bowls, made piece-by-piece by so many little helpers.

"We were talking to them about what can we do about hunger, and sometimes Karen would say there are children who are going to get up in the morning and will not have anything in their bowl. What can we do about that?" said Ms. Strauss. "Just one person can't do much, but together, we can."

The children cooperated to make their class bowl, which was then sold to benefit a donation to the Tyler food bank.

"The East Texas Food Bank is grateful to the Michelson Museum for allowing these young children to learn about hunger and be part of raising funds to help fight hunger," said Dennis Cullinane, executive director of the ETFB. "Every dollar donated to the East Texas Food Bank helps provide eight meals to our neighbors in need."

Two children's bowls from each fourth-grade class were also selected to be on display during receptions last week and attendees were welcomed to buy them at $10 each, the same price as tickets previous Empty Bowl events. The Empty Bowl event has not been organized this year as previous leader for the effort, potter Erin Lambert, has moved away from the city.

"This was the biggest thing we have ever undertaken," said Ms. Strauss, who added that the receptions were held on different nights for Marshall or county school districts because the response was also huge.

The "A Bowl with Sole" project also raised $320, which was donated to the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler to provide an estimated 2,560 meals to hungry East Texans, according to a ETFB news release.

The East Texas Food Bank distributes about 19 million pounds of food each year to more than 200 partner agencies in 26 East Texas counties. Learn more online about their mission to reduce hunger by providing food at <a href= "http://www.easttexasfoodbank.org/">www.easttexasfoodbank.org</a> or under the "etfoodbank" handle on either facebook.com or twitter.com.

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