Working with their hands, students at Covenant Day School are learning to make a difference in their world and their own community without even leaving the classroom.
That’s the case for 13-year-old Madeline Coggins, a Mint Hill resident and eighth-grader at the school who loves art and was excited to participate in the Empty Bowls service project. Madeline is in one of the middle school art classes, where working with clay is one of her favorite hobbies — as is helping others. So when teacher Karen Ernsberger had her students create bowls to sell and raise money for the nonprofit Matthews HELP Center, Madeline was excited to help impact her local community.
“It’s important to help the local community because that’s our community,” Madeline said. “In the Bible, God calls us to serve our community and that’s what I try hard to do.”
The project is part of Empty Bowls, an international grassroots effort to fight hunger created by The Imagine Render Group. Artists create handcrafted bowls, which are then sold as a reminder to people of all the empty bowls in the world.
Participants also host a soup and bread luncheon for cash to help the cause. The money raised is donated to organizations working to end hunger and food insecurity.
This year, Covenant Day’s lower school students and middle and high school art classes are creating bowls for their March 15 Empty Bowls event for Grandparent’s Day at the school. The group, along with some faculty handmade bowls, will have nearly 600 bowls for sale through their online lunch program. Lower school bowls are $5, while middle and high school bowls are $8. Seventy-two faculty painted bowls will be sold at a private auction. Panera Bread in Matthews is providing soup and bread for the Grandparent’s Day luncheon.
The school has participated with the initiative two times in the past, where they were able to send about $3,000 each time to El Shaddai Ministries, an organization that helps orphans in Haiti.
“This year I came to Mark Davis (Covenant Day head of school) and asked if we could choose a local ministry. Sometimes you can’t see the money in use when it goes far away and we wanted to impact hunger in our local community too,” Ernsberger said. “We just contacted Matthews HELP Center because of their food pantry, but they told us about their backpack program.”
The BounceBack Backpack Program at the crisis assistance center provides backpacks full of food for the weekend for about 60 area children and their families. Ernsberger said the program typically costs $500 to $600 each weekend to sponsor all the backpacks. The school hopes to raise enough money to sponsor a series of weekends this spring.
For Madeline, she worked extra hard on her blue bowl with a flower design, to make sure someone at the school would be interested in taking it home.
“I do my best on the Empty Bowls project,” she said. “I try extra hard. It just makes me feel good to know that I’m helping someone else out, who is much worse off than me.”
Though Covenant Day’s luncheon event isn’t open to the public, Ernsberger said there may be some leftover bowls for sale after March 15.
If you’re interested in buying a bowl or making a donation to the project, call 704-847-2385.