Horizons combats hunger with Empty Bowl fundraiser

Jeremiah Young of Woodland Ceramics, left, helps Nathaniel Kuhn, 6, form a clay bowl on a pottery wheel during the Empty Bowls fundraiser on Sunday. "(The wet clay) felt like it was a soft, soft blanket biting at me," he said. (H-W Photo/Maggie Menderski)
Posted: Mar. 3, 2013 11:23 pm Updated: Mar. 18, 2013 12:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Pat Kuhn's soup bowl finished with done-done-done-done.

The art mentor for the Quincy Arts Center and music enthusiast had painted the first few notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in the bottom of the dish for Horizons Social Services' second annual Empty Bowls fund raiser on Sunday. Usually, the three quick Gs and the longer E flat began a musical masterpiece, but this time the "done" sound symbolized the emptiness and community hunger.

Kuhn had coached K-3 students at Ellington, Monroe and Dewey schools to place their passions in the dishes they painted for Empty Bowls too. Horizons, which operates a soup kitchen at St. John's Church, served roughly 1,000 bowls of soup during the fund raiser at Quincy High School on Sunday. Each guest also received one of 1,200 bowls, which had been glazed by local students.

"This is a really neat thing, because the kids really want to come back and find their bowl," Kuhn said.

Project chairman Stephanie Erwin said Empty Bowls raised more than $15,000 in the three-hour event last year. This year's money will benefit Horizons' soup supper and food pantry programs.

Erwin said one in four children in Adams County goes hungry. She added that many of the students embraced the project, because their families utilize Horizons' services.

"They know they're helping a need in the community," Erwin said.

Several children scanned the rows of bowls looking for the ones they'd glazed. The brightly colored bowls lining the tables showed crosses, flowers, hearts and what volunteers called "various interpretations of rainbows."

Kuhn, along with several other Quincy Art Center mentors, volunteered their expertise for the project. While the project focused on combating hunger, Erwin said it also sought to incorporate another art lesson into local schools. Kuhn and Erwin both noted public school art programs had seen significant cuts in recent years.

Kuhn taught the students to begin their art with an end goal in mind. When glazing, the students considered their favorite colors, hobbies and symbols.

"When you finish your soup, what do you want to see in the bottom of the bowl," Kuhn said.

Horizons also auctioned off bowls and coffee table platters painted by local artists. Kuhn's Beethoven bowl went up for bid along with a Blue Devil planner made by QHS art teacher Blane Barnes. Quincy Notre Dame graduate Jack Cornell, now a member of the National Football League's Baltimore Ravens, glazed a bowl in his professional team's colors. His bowl was paired with a signed T-shirt and a poster from the Ravens' recent Super Bowl victory.

The bowls varied nearly as much as the volunteers needed to distribute them. Horizons partners with 15 local churches. These faith communities provided manpower and auction materials for baskets. They also contributed skills through the "Bowls of Faith" silent auction. Representatives from each church used those bowls to illustrate images of faith that fuels Horizons' mission of serving the hungry.

"All the churches partnering together, it's just unique," Erwin said. "When people come together, we can do such great things for the community."