The heat is on as kilns are fired up to make the hundreds of bowls needed for this year’s Empty Bowl Project.
It will be a continuous cycle for Mandeville Junior High School teacher Mary-Elaine Bernard, who teaches Talented Art, Art 1 and Art Club. Her students have finished making the bowls, forming them from slabs of clay and adding coils to build up the sides.
Next, they'll smooth, sand, embellish and glaze each bowl to make it a unique piece.
The handmade bowls will be available at the 14th annual Empty Bowl fundraiser, which will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Pontchartrain Yacht Club, 1196 Harbor Drive in Mandeville.
Empty Bowl benefits the food bank at the Samaritan Center at 402 Girod St., a nonprofit organization that provides food, shelter and clothes for the needy in the western part of the parish.
More than 20 area restaurants will be filling the bowls with a variety of soups, gumbo, chili and special dishes. Live music will be provided by the Phil DeGruy Trio.
Sponsored by the Old Mandeville Business Association, the Empty Bowl Project is one of the largest annual fundraisers for the Samaritan Center.
Also making bowls are Talented Art students at Pine View Middle School, art students at Pontchartrain Elementary School and art elective students at Monteleone Junior High.
Bernard’s classes at Mandeville Junior High and Tonya Hendon’s program at Monteleone Junior High received service learning grants from the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorset Brown Foundation to purchase clay and other supplies necessary to complete the bowls.
“The schools are happy to have their students participate in the service project,” Bernard said, because the Samaritan Center helps feed so many people.
Bernard makes bowls along side her students. Local potter Julie Katich also contributes to the project.
The idea of making handmade pieces for the Empty Bowl fundraiser began in Bernard’s pottery studio before it closed after Hurricane Katrina. After a few years hiatus, she was happy to get her students to revive the project.
Dozens of local churches participate in the Samaritan Center’s ministry, which in 2015 helped more than 3,500 families. These families included 4,228 children, 5,393 adults and 487 seniors.
The center was founded in 1989 to pool resources and distribute services from a central location. Its mission is to carry out the Biblical command, “If you love me, feed my sheep.”
Admission to the Empty Bowl fundraiser is $40 at the door, but tickets may be purchased in advance at the Das Schulerhaus Gift & Christmas Gallery, 611 Girod St. in Mandeville, or K. Gee's Restaurant, 2534 Florida St. in Mandeville.