Preparing for an Empty Bowls soup, bread buffet and silent art and craft auction is no small task. It takes an enormous amount of planning, time and effort by many volunteers.
But Newark High School art teacher Courtney Dentel, who has overseen four Empty Bowls fundraisers that benefit the Newark Food Closet, said this recent and possibly most heavily attended event was well worth all the effort.
Dentel said about 400 people attended, and she was pleased to report that this year’s event provided about $4,000 for the Newark Food Closet, bringing to a total of about $20,000 raised since 2010. Dentel said that $1,350 of that amount was raised this year through the silent art auction alone.
“I feel proud and thankful for the contributions that everyone made,” Dentel said. “I wish everyone could see behind the scenes of making this come together, because hundreds of people contribute in so many different ways. It’s truly a beautiful thing. Newark is blessed to have such a supportive community.”
Kelley School art teacher Amy O’Connor helped in various ways along with others from the Newark Central School District Art Department.
“It was truly amazing to look around that high school cafeteria and see all the people that came out to support the Newark Food Closet, Newark Visual Arts program and our students,” O’Connor said. :I loved watching people as they walked around the tables admiring all the handcrafted bowls and seeing smiling faces as they walked away with a favorite ceramic bowl in hand. We were blessed with volunteers and can’t say thank you enough to each and every one of them that helped to make the event such a success. It was a lot of work and time, but such a fulfilling endeavor.”
Lisa Barrett, who will take over as head coordinator of the Newark Food Closet in June, said she was happy to hear about the amount that will be given to the food closet. Newark is the largest food closet in Wayne County and is staffed by 70 volunteers. It serves over 1,000 households a year and donations of food and money are always needed, especially in the summer months. For information, call 315-573-7229.
Empty Bowls was the final step in another ambitious and lengthy project in which many students made and painted pottery bowls. Staff and community members, and even some of their children, also painted pre-made pottery bowls to help prepare for the event. Dentel said close to 500 bowls were made.
The bowls were displayed, viewed and selected at the Empty Bowls event by people who purchased $10 tickets, with organizers hoping each would serve as a reminder that others may not be able to afford to put food on their table and in their own bowls.
Dentel said the district art department’s help was invaluable as well as the participation by students and staff and the generosity of so many individuals and businesses.
Empty Bowls, is a grassroots movement that helps raise money each year to help support food banks and soup kitchens throughout the nation.
“So many people played a role in making this a success again for the Newark Food Closet,’’ Dentel said. “I am always amazed at how a community can come together and make such a huge difference.”
She said she was pleased this year that more people reached out to her and asked how they could help.
Isabelle Jensen’s Culture in Foods class and Advance Food and Nutrition classes made seven soups that were served. The rest were provided by Wegmans, Parkers Grille and NCSD food service manager Warren Bushart. Pontillo’s Pizza and Mark’s Pizzeria provided bread. NHS Reds Wagon Catering and Tami Clark’s class made cookies served at the event.
ESL Federal Credit Union in Newark provided water and volunteers to serve soup during the second serving shift. Newark Kiwanis Club members served soup during the first serving shift. Four Pack 138 Cub Scouts with den mom Juli Scharett and two Pack 122 Cub Scouts with den leader Michele DeYulio assisted by handing out water bottles, cleaning tables after guests were finished at each table and with overall cleanup of the cafeteria when the event was over.
Dentel thanked NHS senior Kassidy Paddock for designing shirts for the event. She also thanked various businesses and individuals who donated various supplies.
“Dentel and the art department did a great job of pulling this all together, and there were many other parts of our school district that helped,” Superintendent Matt Cook said. “It was a true team effort and with everything going to benefit the Food Closet, that makes it a very real community learning experience for our students.”
NHS Principal Tom Roote commended Dentel for her ongoing work with the Empty Bowls cause after the event’s success.
“I was able to enjoy the event this year with my wife, Allyson, and our kids Jack and Ava,” he said. “This year was particularly special, because they were able to understand the giving back aspect of the event. Our conversations since have been centered on helping those in our communities that just don’t have what they need to survive. We are so thankful to the art department for inspiring this thinking at NHS and in my home. In fact, I am currently working with staff and students to provide needy families food on the weekends from a food closet in the high school.”