Skipping School for Service
Originally printed in the Pine County Courier February 23, 2017
Twelve National Honor Society (NHS) students and their coordinator Cassie Gaede last week ventured into the Sandstone United Church of Christ (UCC) during school hours. Why would such a group of students known to be studious be skipping school? The answer is to create artwork to raise money for the community. This was the groups second year helping out UCC’s Empty Bowls project.
The Empty Bowls project was started three years ago by members of the church with the goal of trying to feed people, and to also inform the community of the need. With two successful years under their belt they are hoping for another good year. Their dinner this year will be held the second Saturday in March, the 11th at two different times from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the UCC church in Sandstone. The dinner is a $10 donation and features homemade soup and bread, and patrons also get to take home a homemade “empty” bowl of their choosing. The empty bowl is to symbolize that there are people who go hungry in the world, even in our own community. According to Second Harvest an average of 1 in 10 households in Minnesota are affected by hunger. When looking at Pine County this number jumps to 11.5 percent or 3,390 people who are food insecure according to Feeding America.
Gaede said that they first became involved with the project last year after a conversation between NHS kids and Gaede. The group decided that they wanted to help out since Empty Bowls donates to the Backpack Program, which is run by NHS. The Backpack Program at East Central takes donations of money, and food and fill student’s backpacks with food for those in need. They do it discreetly before the weekends. They are currently serving 51 kids. For perspective, this is around the same number of kids in a graduating class each year at the school.
If anyone has any interest in donating to the East Central Backpack Program there are many different ways you can do so. One way would be supporting Empty Bowls who will give half of their donations from this years project after the dinner on March 11th. Another way is that NHS has partnered with Chris’ Food Center for the round-up program. Patrons will be asked if they wish to raise their total amount of their grocery bill to the next dollar, and the difference in change is donated to the East Central backpack program. You can also round up more than a dollar, if you wish say $5, $10, $20 or more. Another simple way for anyone is sending a donation check or cash to the school specifying the East Central Backpack program.
NHS currently has three students that pack the food for the students, and another three that deliver the food to the students. Gaede said ”It is all about serving others, find problems and coming up with solutions, and even one person can make a change.” NHS Students were excited to participate. “It is my first time doing this. I enjoy making the bowls, I will definitely be back. I get to make something that will end up raising money to go to something better,” said junior Brennyn DePaulis.
“It’s really cool,” said senior Amanda Ripley. I like to make art, and really enjoy pottery. It is really comforting that this is out here knowing that we are making a difference.”
If anyone wants to get in on the fun of making the bowls, and/or glazing them there are still a few remaining days to help make pottery. These events are free and open for anyone to come of all ages. The remaining dates are Saturday, February 25th, and Saturday, March 4th from 10 a.m. until noon.