The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 27, 2013

Empty Bowls fill community need

Tom Lavis
tlavis@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Students, faculty and staff in Greater Johnstown School District are raising awareness of the plight of homelessness and hunger in the area.

Greater Johnstown High School Key Club’s Empty Bowls dinners also have raised thousands of dollars to help the needy.

The fourth annual Empty Bowls dinner will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the high school cafeteria.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students.

Last year the dinner raised $3,000, and this year’s goal is to raise more for three area charities that serve the needs of the less fortunate.

Equal shares of the proceeds will go to the Women’s Help Center, St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army.

The Empty Bowls project combines the artistic talent of students with a simple meal and information.

The meal of soup and bread will be served in handcrafted ceramic bowls that guests will be able to take home.

Melana Simms, a high school guidance counselor and Key Club adviser, said the empty bowls are a reminder that many people need help.

“We want people to come out, have a good meal, enjoy some music and take home a handcrafted bowl as a reminder that there are others whose bowls are empty,” she said.

Along with the Key Club, the art club is involved with the bowl making process.

“We also have included our elementary students in conducting a food drive, and the entire district is aware of and in support of the event in various ways,” Simms said.

Johnstown High School culinary students will volunteer to make soup and serve at the event.

One of the soups being served is a potato-bacon chowder, the winner of the Johnstown High School Culinary Soup Cook-Off.

“Many of the approximately 150 Key Club members will be in attendance to help serve, set up, clean up and do any other tasks required to make the event a success,” Simms said.

The Key Club’s two major projects are Trojan Family Christmas in the fall semester and Empty Bowls.

“The Empty Bowls project requires preparation all year in making bowls, raising funds and coordinating with the benefiting agencies,” Simms said.

Representatives of each benefiting agency will be in attendance to provide information on their services as well as their needs for volunteers and continued support.

“We also will be sharing testimonials from each agency,” Simms said. “These are real-life stories of the services the agencies are providing daily.”

Art teacher Cindy Maloy has spent countless hours after school making bowls and teaching others the process.

Bowls are produced beginning after the Christmas break and completed by the dinner.

“As students get involved in the project, it shows them the value of community service,” Maloy said. “It teaches teamwork and demonstrates that they can achieve a goal by working together for  worthy cause.”

Maloy also said the project is a great motivator because all of the money raised stays in the local community to help their friends and neighbors.

The students have made about 600 bowls in various sizes and colors.

“We usually get between 300 to 600 people to attend the dinner,” Simms said.

Key Club president Kendra Slis assisted in the bowl-making process, is coordinating and promoting the event and is motivating club members to be actively involved.

The band Smooth Sound will provide entertainment throughout the evening.

Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling 533-5601, ext. 51185, or by emailing at msimms@gjsd.net. Tickets also may also be purchased at the door.

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