Gail Friedman, Holy Cross pastor Tim Engel and PHS art department coordinator Paula Weise admire the variety of student-made bowls available for purchase at the Empty Bowls Project. | Photo provided
Updated: June 18, 2013 6:52AM
Every spring for the past six years, Portage Township schools, local churches, businesses, organizations and individuals have joined together to help raise money for the Portage Food Pantry.
On April 27, months of work came to fruition at the annual Empty Bowls Project. Student artists at every level had been working hard to create bowls and other pieces to be sold at the event. Customers could buy a disposable bowl for $5 to sample the soups and chilis, but a second $5 entitled them to their choice of a hand-made ceramic bowl.
“We’ve tried some new things this year,” art department co-coordinator Paula Weise said. “The students did some nice bowls with Native American themes, shapes and colors, and Wanda Rice’s class did these little stenciled bowls.”
The elementary schools brought some interesting creations, too.
“We did some red clay pottery,” art teacher Bridget Nadolski said. “The kids made these little trays with some ‘bling.’”
“We hope for a good turn out,” she continued. “It gives the families a chance to gather and enjoy a social time with their kids. It raises money for a good cause. And it keeps the arts out in the view of the community. We are so lucky in Portage to have such an outstanding art program kindergarten through 12th grade and to have such support both from the administration and the community.”
While the schools provided the artwork, the community provided the food.
“Jimmy Johns in Portage and Chesterton, Subway in South Haven and the Texas Roadhouse provided the bread,” Weise said. “Starbucks provided the coffee.”
But it wouldn’t be an Empty Bowls Project without the soup, and two churches provided those. Holy Cross and St. Peter Lutheran Churches provided 35 Crock-Pots of soup and chili. From chicken noodle to matzo to cream of potato, from hot cowboy chili to mild chili, there was something for every taste. Patrons could sample as many soups and chilis as they liked.
Holy Cross Community Outreach Coordinator Karen Fulkerson organized all the food.
“We have it down to a routine,“ she said. “Everyone helps out and knows just what they are doing.”
Marci Kunstek and her sorority Pi Sigma Phi provided the water and pop. For the third year in a row, her son Nate and his friend Michael Keith sold those items.
“Aren’t they awesome?” Kunstek asked. “They do this every year. We all just want to be a part of this wonderful event.”
Jennifer Guerrero not only made soup, she also contributed 250 cupcakes. Flavors like red velvet, lemon and Andes candy tempted the customers.
“I started around 3 p.m. and finished at 2 a.m. this morning,” Guerrero said. “I just want them to be as fresh as possible.”
She credited sons Drake, 13, and Roman, 8, with helping provide the manual labor of packing and carrying the cupcakes.
The event raised $3,000 for the pantry.