Local students team up with charity to highlight hunger with "Empty Bowls."

VALRICO, Fla. -   
I remember art -- one of those "fun" classes that came around once a week in school that they used to call "specials."  Who knew that all the while we were coloring and stuff... We were actually learning.

"They get a little bit of math, they get a little bit of science," said
Shelly Valdez, an art instructor at Lithia Springs Elementary School in Valrico.  "We do writing, we incorporate words sometimes, so I kind of feel like we encompass all of the different subjects in art."

So sneaky those art instructors... especially the ones who've been at it awhile -- like Ms. Valdez -- who's now into here 11th year of teaching.  These days, she's taking those lessons a little further.

"We're also going to be teaching them that they can use their art to make a difference in other people's lives," she said.

"And," she added, "we're going to be using it as a way to raise money for people that are less fortunate."

In fact, this class is making pinch bowls to give away as part of the Empty Bowls project --a national program designed to highlight hunger in our midst.

A March 9th fundraiser for Brandon's Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO)  will feature a soup dinner and these handmade bowls -- to be taken home as a reminder that nearly one in eight people right here in our community struggle with food insecurity every day.

"Kids really actually have a heart for helping and they really like to be involved and doing something," said Stacey Efaw, ECHO's Executive Director.

And if that something is artful -- all the better!

"It's a very creative process for me," said student Haley Manigold.  "So I like to be creative."

Creative yes -- but also aware.

Logan Beatty
"We can't just say it's good enough," said 5th grader Logan Beatty.  "But we have to try to make it as best as we can."

ECHO's Empty Bowls fundraiser is set for March 9th from 6-8 pm at the Winthrop Town Center in Riverview.  For more information , call 813.685.0935.


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