Fourth-grade art students at Vandora Springs Elementary aren’t letting any grass grow under their feet now that the school year has gotten underway.
A select group of about 15 students gathered after school last week to begin a project that means a lot to them. The Empty Bowl project is the brainchild of Vandora Springs art teacher Jim Hunt, who uses the project – along with another – to promote social awareness among his students.
The Empty Bowl project is an effort to raise food for area food pantries. Later this semester, during a PTA meeting, the students will give their bowls away to people who bring at least 20 non-perishable food items, which will be donated to Garner Area Ministries.
While the fourth-graders are working on their bowls, a group of fifth-graders will begin painting a host of chairs that line the hallway outside Hunt’s classroom. The chairs will be auctioned off later in the year to raise money for Relay for Life.
Students will create some unusual bowls this year. Normally, made of clay, the students will create bowls from vinyl record albums this year. The change is a concession to plans to move students to the new Bryan Road Elementary School later this school year. This year’s bowls will require less time to make and Hunt hopes to complete the project before it’s time to start packing for the move to a new home.
On Thursday, Hunt stood in front of his students and explained to them the process they will follow to make the bowls. Students will paint the bowls before taking them home and forming them by heating the record in an oven.
Students are excited about the project because they understand the cause they are supporting.
“Mr. Hunt said we want to use our talents to help people that don’t have food. He told us to pick four of your friends,” said Lily Parker. “He said one of your friends is going to have not enough food or don’t have shelter. I tried, but like he said, it’s hard to find people that don’t have food now. You’re doing the project to help people even though you don’t know who they are.”
Being invited to participate in the project is a big deal for the students. Parker likes the idea of helping people in need.
She’s not the only student who was familiar with the Empty Bowl project either. Paydon Glandorf was also hopeful that she would join the effort after watching her sister take part a few years ago.
“I am really good at art, I think so. If he didn’t think I was good at art, he wouldn’t have picked me,” said Paydon Glandorf. Like her classmate, Glandorf understands this is more than just an art project.
“If they go too hungry, they could die and no kid should die of hunger,” Glandorf said. “It’s not just going out somewhere and doing an activity to raise money. It’s actually using students and their talents and helping the community.”
Hunt says he wants his students to learn about more than art in his classroom.
“I think it’s a good idea to have our children know, at an early age, that they can make a difference. And it’s a great project that they can give back to their community,” Hunt said. “They know that the little part that they did was a big help to somebody else.”