Arts and Entertainment

Empty Bowls to the heart

By Shayna Sage
Published: March 2009

900 dollars. To some, this is not a significant amount of money, but to others, it’s the difference between having an empty bowl and a filled bowl.

On March 20, the 6th annual Empty Bowls event raised just that amount of money for the Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen located in Waltham. The event was held in the Newton South Cafeteria from 6:00-7:30pm.

Ceramics teacher and Empty Bowls organizer Karen Sobin-Jonash started Empty Bowls six years ago as a fun, creative way to help the community.

“I wanted to do something that would unite the Art department with other Departments, Consumer Science, Theatre, and Music. It was important to me to build a culture of wheel throwing, community involvement, and collaboration, Sobin-Jonash said.

“The school already had a relationship with Bristol Lodge through the Community Service group lead by [Cutler housemaster] Donna Gordon. They make a meal and go to the Lodge to serve the homeless and hungry once a month, which made it easier to find a place to do this project with.

To kick off the event, Sobin-Jonash threw the annual “wheel-a-thon and kept the ceramics studio open every block except A block on Tuesday, March 9. During the “wheel-a-thon, any students who wanted to make a bowl were allowed to come in and craft them, even non-ceramics students.

As the students worked, Sobin-Jonash provided a relaxing environment by playing music in the background. She also offered snacks, including donut holes, lollipops, and pizza from Bill’s Pizzeria in Newton Centre.

In the end, an incredible 150 bowls were created for Empty Bowls. A major contributor was senior Jesse Charney-Golden, who made an astonishing 60 bowls. Charney-Golden also displayed some bowls and other ceramic items separately for an auction that was held throughout the night. “I started taking ceramics sophomore year, and¦I have gradually become more involved as the years progressed, Charney-Golden said.

All the bowls made during the “wheel-a-thon were sold at five dollars for students and 10 dollars for adults. Once buyers selected their bowls, they filled them with warm, delicious soup. At the end of the night, the buyers took their bowls home as tokens to remember the event and the cause.

The empty bowl helps “remind [buyers] that some families have bowls that are empty¦hunger is still a problem in this country, Sobin-Jonash said.

To give the evening even more meaning, Dick Rodgers, director of Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen, was invited to talk about his involvement with Bristol Lodge. “It’s a sad story because [Rodgers] was once homeless and he needed the services of Bristol Lodge to get his life back together, Sobin-Jonash said.

The turn-out for Empty Bowls was a huge success. Not only did many students attend, but a lot of parents went to the event as well. “My daughter is very involved with ceramics at South and Empty Bowls is a very concrete way to help those in need because we never know if one day we will be in need of others, Peter Dwyer, father of senior Lydia Dwyer, said.

Senior James Hammond also helped out by playing his guitar throughout the evening, which acted to create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere.

“My friends told me about how fun ceramics was, so I just started showing up, and then I heard about Empty Bowls and thought it was really cool so I decided to contribute in my own way: by making bowls and playing my music, Hammond said.

That night, some students helped with the event by standing at the front of the door to keep track of the money.

Others joined the Consumer Sciences Department in making and serving the soup. The flavors of soup available included chicken, vegetable, turkey chili, pea, and lentil. Tortilla chips, white bread, and parmesan cheese were also available to accompany the soup.

Another nice touch was a slideshow that played throughout the night, portraying the bowl-making process. It showed all the behind-the-scenes preparations that helped make Empty Bowls happen.

There was also a wheel throwing station located near the snack line open to anyone who wanted to learn how to throw bowls on the wheel.

The night came to an end when Sobin-Jonash and Rodgers reflected on past Empty Bowls events as well as the one that night. NewTV recorded these speeches, which will help Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen and Empty Bowls attract more attention. Hopefully this will lead to an even larger turn-out next year.

Empty Bowls is unique to other events at Newton South because it helps the community and creates a fun and relaxing way to learn more about ceramics.

“Community Service learning is an instructional methodology which provides students with an opportunity to learn wheel throwing and hand building, integrating the experience of learning with the curriculum, Sobin-Jonash said.

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