SPRING VALLEY, Wis. -- Students fought grumbling stomachs this week. Their weapon … art.
The Spring Valley Art Department held its annual Empty Bowls on Monday at the Spring Valley Middle-High School. The nationwide project aims to fight hunger by selling artistic bowls to raise funds for local food shelves and other charitable organizations.
Students in grades 2-12 made 350-400 ceramic bowls as well as other pottery items. Ceramic sales included bowls, trays, cups and sculptures at $5 each. The project began in 2015 and has raised around $25,000, according to art teacher Becky Leland.
A free-will donation meal of soup — served in a bowl — was available along with bread and desserts.
Proceeds went to community members in need, more specifically the food shelf and Spring Valley schools’ backpack program. The program sends a backpack of food home with students in need of meals for over the weekend and extended school breaks. The backpacks are returned Monday to be filled again.
“This event fully funds our backpack program,” Bankston said.
Some bowls were reserved and paid for by proud parents and students. That alone raised more than $900 prior to the event, according to K-12 art teacher Jalissa Bankston.
Students are not the only ones involved in the program, but it is rather a collaborative program for the community.
“We get thousands of dollars from local businesses,” Bankston said.
Any leftover bowls will be sold throughout the year or brought back the following year. Leftovers from last year were filled with candy, wrapped up and sold as secret bowls.
The night was bustling with activity including face painting, a community wood-burning project, pottery demonstration, coloring and painting stations. Student volunteers ran the various activities.
Students also sold artwork to raise money for victims of Australian wildfires. Most of the original artwork had already been sold raising over $250 for aid. On Monday, students continued to sell postcard copies of the original artwork.
When asked what her favorite part of the night was Leland replied, “seeing the families all come together for no reason other than art and community and raising money to feed our families."
Update Feb. 12, 2020: Leland counted about $4,500 raised, which includes bowl sales, other proceeds from the night and donations. There are still additional sales which have not been recorded yet.
"For a community as small as ours, this is a tremendous amount raised for one event," Leland wrote in an email to the Republican Eagle.
This story has been updated to include more photos.