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Wheels turn to fight hunger

Bowls made by last year's Park High School students in Julie Christensen's pottery classes will be given away during the Empty Bowls fundraiser. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)1 / 5
Making pottery bowls in Julie Christensen's Tuesday night pottery classes in community education are (from the foreground to the back on the left) Betty Hill, Angie Griffith and Deanna Lang. In the background on the right is Shelly Ford with Tracy Barnhart in the foreground. Christensen is in the background. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)2 / 5
Rachel Fenske (left) member of the community education and youth advisory councils learns how to make a pottery bowl from Community Education Director Ernie Pines. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)3 / 5
Community Education Director Ernie Pines, a former art teacher, demonstrates the "slab" technique to make clay containers. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)4 / 5
Tracy Barnhart (left) gets tips on how to make pottery bowls from Park High Teacher Julie Christensen. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)5 / 5

The empty bowls that attendees will take home from an upcoming fundraiser serve as reminders that many people around the world are hungry.

Community Education Director Ernie Pines, along with students, teachers and community members, has been busy at the potter's wheel making the bowls. Pines estimates the group will need 1,200 for the Nov. 17 event, which benefits hunger-fighting causes.

Rachel Fenske, a Park High School student who is on the event-planning team is among the supporters who are learning how to make pottery bowls for the event.

"I've never made pottery," Fenske said, as Pines showed her how to make a bowl using the "slab" method.

Pines, a former art teacher, has been in Park's pottery room for the past two Mondays after 4 p.m. to make bowls and to shepherd those helping make the pottery for the event.

Park High School art teacher Julie Christensen is also making bowls, and has asked her students to contribute bowls they are creating in her classes.

Students in pottery classes at Woodbury and East Ridge are contributing.

Christensen, who has taken charge of drying and firing the bowls made by community education staffers and supporters, is contributing bowls for the event made by last year's students who didn't pick them up at the end of the year.

Six students in Christensen's Tuesday night community education class are also contributing their creations.

In 2006, School District 833 Community Education held an Empty Bowls event to raise money for an orphanage in Uganda. More than 600 people attended and $8,000 was donated.

Those who attended got a bowl of soup, bread, water and a handmade bowl to take home as a reminder about the reality of hunger.

Some of the money from this year's event will be donated internationally, as in the past, and some will stay local, going to the Friends In Need Food Shelf, which serves residents in Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park and Grey Cloud Island Township, and other local organizations that provide food, said Gretchen Carlson, community education adult education coordinator, who is chairing the Empty Bowls event.

Local celebrities such as School Board member Ron Kath, WCCO Radio meteorologist Mike Lynch and Woodbury High School Principal Linda Plante will serve soup, along with area church pastors and school principals.

Park High School International Baccalaureate students and the school's step team are making a video to highlight hunger awareness. A representative from Feed My Starving Children is among the guests invited to talk about the need, said Carlson.

This event is also different from the one held in 2006 because the planning committee has members from Park High School's International Baccalaureate program and students from East Ridge and Woodbury high schools.

Food for the event is being donated by Great Harvest Bread Company, Dorothy Ann's Bakery, American Motor Sports Grill, Tinnucci's Restaurant and The Pointe with all proceeds going to food charities.

If you go

Empty Bowls will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the District Program Center at 8400 East Point Douglas Road in Cottage Grove.

Tickets for the event are $10 for adults, $5 for children or $30 per family. For information, or to register, go to

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600