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Filling bowls

A "buddy class" of 50 first- and fifth-graders at Helman Elementary School has shaped, fired and painted a slew of bowls to be sold at Peace House's third annual Empty Bowls Supper on May 9 in Ashland.

The supper to raise money for the hungry will be from 4 to 7 p.m. in Wesley Hall behind First United Methodist Church, 175 N. Main St., Ashland.

The event features live music and soups, breads and other goodies from a dozen area restaurants, bakeries, breweries and caterers. Cost is $25 for each bowl, which is filled with soup and comes with refills. Students eat for $10, children for free.

Last year, Empty Bowls raised $4,200. This year, Peace House hopes to almost double that amount, says organizer Zoe Alowan. Proceeds will reach hungry families through ACCESS Inc., Ashland Emergency Food Bank, Uncle Food's Diner and Food Angels.

"The supper is important because hunger here continues to significantly increase each year," says Alowan. "The Ashland Food Bank now serves 1,400 families a month, and 40 percent of the people are children. There's an impression that it's for the homeless, but 90 percent of these folks live in their homes."

The Helman kids learned a lot about hungry families as they made their bowls and heard a talk by Alowan, says first-grade teacher Kari Smith.

"It got them thinking about people in our community who don't have the basic food that we take for granted," says Smith. "They realized there are ways even young kids can help, raise awareness and get involved in community service."

Working from a slab of clay, students punched out a bowl shape with their thumbs and fired it in the school's kiln, says fifth-grader Ava Becking.

"I felt pretty bad about the hungry people who are being helped by this," Ava says.

"It's pretty cool that our bowls are being sold with soup and that money is going to feed those less fortunate than us," says fifth-grader Tae Troutman. "And that people get to take the bowls home."

One student painted "eat well" in the bottom of a bowl.

Each fifth-grader has a buddy in the first grade, so it teaches caring and mentoring of the young along with social responsibility that 6-year-old pupils can understand, says fifth-grade teacher Mark Sherbow.

Clayfolk and Southern Oregon University ceramics are also donating bowls. Soroptimists conducted the event for a dozen years before Peace House took it over.

Food will be prepared from Amuse, Bella Union, C Street Bistro, Howiee's on Front, Green Springs Inn, Greenleaf Restaurant, Mauren Faye Caterers, Pangea, Spoons and Tabu. Breads are from Deux Chats Bakery and Standing Stone Brewery, Wiley's World and Organicos.

Music is by Blades of Grass, the Peace Choir Ensemble, jazz pianist Alan Berman, and guitarist Laura Christine.

Sponsors include Ashland Food Co-op, Clayfolk, Sunday Afternoons, Tree Tops Foundation, LocalsGuide, Bear Creek Naturopathic Clinic, Gift Communities, Ashland Drug, Soundpeace, Terra Firma, and attorney Lloyd Mathew Haines.

For more information, call Peace House at 541-482-9625. Tickets may be purchased in Ashland at Paddington Station, Northwest Nature Shop, or the door. They can also be purchased online through Paypal at www.peacehouse.net.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.