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'A lot of families don't have food to fill bowls...'

Chloe Dauenhauer, 9, paints a bowl in art class at Oakwood Elementary as part of the Empty Bowls Project. More photos page 16. Photo by Susan Bromley. (click for larger version)
November 17, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- Thanksgiving is often celebrated as a time of abundance, with dining tables laden with a variety of food.

But for some families, empty bowls and empty stomachs are a regular occurence throughout the year. To combat hunger in this community, Oakwood Elementary students have created art and will invite their family members and friends to a special dinner as part of the Empty Bowls Project.

"A lot of families don't have food to fill bowls," said Christy Black, co-chair of the Empty Bowls Project, along with Trish Federow. "We tell the kids it's not just the homeless. There are families in our community that might not have dinner tonight."

Students in every grade at Oakwood have created papier m‚ché bowls for the project. On a recent afternoon, in Mary Larsen's art room, children smiled and laughed as they decorated their bowls with colorful paint, using brushes, splatter techniques or brushing their own hands with paint to then place on their bowls.

The bowls the kids make will be on display at the Empty Bowls Project dinner fundraiser. Black and Federow are currently calling on local businesses to request donations of soup and breadsticks for the dinner, planned for 5:30-7 p.m., Dec. 2, at the Oakwood Elementary School cafeteria, 2839 Oakwood Road. A donation of $1 is requested per bowl of soup consumed by guests.

Music teacher Michael Medvinsky initiated the program at H.T. Burt Elementary in 2008.

"I just thought that we as a school community needed to be sensitive to what others are experiencing," he said. "As we go about our day-to-day lives worrying about ourselves and our family and friends, some may lose focus on global issues and other people's struggles. The Empty Bowls Project brings awareness to these issues and brings our community together as a whole."

Under Medvinsky, the Empty Bowls Project raised $400 for the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund. Black and Federow will give all proceeds from this year's Empty Bowl Project to OCEF as well. Leftover soup will be donated to a local soup kitchen.

Businesses that would like to contribute soup or breadsticks can contact Oakwood Elementary at 248-627-1880.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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