Just as soon as art students at Vandora Springs Elementary School finish one community outreach project, they seem to already have another in the works.
A group of about 15 fourth-graders collected nonperishable food donations in December in exchange for the artwork they spent the better part of the school year making as part of their Empty Bowl project, supporting Garner Area Ministries.
By the turn of the new year, Vandora Springs fifth-graders were already halfway done with a separate service project, one benefiting the SPCA of Wake County.
Vandora Springs art teacher Jim Hunt says those two projects – and another project in which fifth-graders paint chairs to auction of in support of the local Relay for Life – are designed to give the students an idea of how they can use their talents as a service to the community.
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“Some people, for some reason or another, don’t really use their gifts and talents the way they could,” Hunt said. “I try to stress to our students we all have gifts and talents. The thing that ties it all together is that outreach and ability to show compassion and empathy and just do something for your community, just to start the ball rolling for service back to somebody else.”
Hunt has held the Empty Bowl and Chairs of Hope projects for many years at schools where he has taught, including the past 11 years at Vandora Springs.
The SPCA benefit project is now in its fifth year.
Hunt said the idea emanated from a pet-friendly memo he came across in his email years ago.
“I was kind of thinking, well, I know some people who work (at the SPCA) and some of the kids’ parents worked there,” Hunt said. “I said that would be a good idea, because it was something we had never touched on at the school.”
Students alternate year-to-year painting portraits of dogs and cats that are sold for $5 each to benefit the society.
Cats were the subject of this year’s paintings. The students used the artwork of Laurel Burch as inspiration for the mixed-media pieces, which they created using tempera paint, black permanent markers, oil pastels and cut paper.
Hunt is planning for the artwork to be exhibited and sold during a special event in the school’s cafeteria on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 6-7 p.m. Any unsold paintings will be given to the SPCA, for the society to sell in its gift shop.