Empty bowls provide food

Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie Ed Gray and Elsa Mugford look over some of the bowls in the Calumet Art Center they and others made for the Empty Bowls Project, which locally is raising funds for 31 Backpacks.

CALUMET — Empty Bowls is an international project intended to relieve hunger, and locally that effort has been taken up by the Calumet Art Center.

Ed Gray, director of the CAC, said this is the second year the CAC has taken part in the Empty Bowls Project. The last time was three years ago, but the intention now is to do it annually.

According to its website, the Empty Bowls Project was created by a group called Imagine Render in North Carolina.

“Imagine Render is a 501c3 non-profit organization,” the website states. “Our mission is to create positive and lasting change through the arts, education, and projects that build community. Our major project is the Empty Bowls Project, an international grassroots effort to raise both money and awareness in the fight to end hunger. This project represents what we do best — develop creative, exciting and powerful models that are replicable and scalable by others wishing to work for social justice.”

Gray said a local organization, which provides food for the weekends for low-income students, is the local recipient of the Empty Bowls revenue.

“All the profits from all the bowls go to 31 Backpacks,” he said.

Laurel Maki, who with her daughter, Melissa Maki, and friend Amy Zadawa, started 31 Backpacks in October 2012. They began the program, which provides enough food for a weekend put into backpacks for students who may not otherwise have enough to eat, after Laurel Maki learned some students were going hungry during the weekends.

The local Empty Bowls effort began in April, Gray said, and so far they’ve sold 350.

“We decided we were going to (sell) 700,” he said. “We’ve got 2 1/2 months to get the other half done. We’ll make it.”

Gary said besides himself, CAC bowls are being made by Elsa Mugford, and Lyn and Mark Reed.

Mugford said she’s relatively knew to throwing pottery.

“I took lessons from Ed about eight years ago,” she said. “I’ve been with it every since. I love it.”

Gray said some people who come into the CAC to purchase bowls for the project buy more than one at $20 each.

“One lady bought six,” he said.

Laurel Maki said she very much appreciates that the CAC Empty Bowl project is going to help 31 Backpacks.

Maki said Gray approached them to see if they would care to be the recipients of the project.

“(He) asked, ‘Could you use the funds?'” she said. “We said, ‘Yes.'”

If 700 bowls are sold, Maki said that will mean $7,000 for 31 Backpacks, and 98 percent of that amount will go to buying food.

Maki is urging people to buy the bowls even if they don’t need any themselves.

“They would make great gifts,” she aid.

Gray said throwing 700 bowls is a lot of work, but he and the others making them don’t mind.

“It’s worth it,” he said. “The whole thing is based on hunger.”

The Calumet Arts Center is located at 57055 Fifth St. in Calumet. Its hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.