Lane Community College Students Get Creative to Fight Hunger
An annual fund raiser for Florence Food Share, which helps almost 600 families a month, proves to be a community favorite as locals shop bowls crafted by students and local artists.
The 13th annual Empty Bowls fund raiser was held recently and the forecast is that it is the biggest yet. Florence Food Share Executive Director Karen Lyn said that they only had 60 bowls left unsold of more than a 1,000. “It went very, very well,” said Lyn. “We definitely raised more than in the past.”
This year the Western Lane Community Foundation awarded a grant for the purchase of more than 3,000 pounds of clay. A workshop, called a “Bowl-In,” had Lane Community College pottery classes teamed with high school art students to create bowls stamped with a design by Vicki Sieber-Benson.
“This truly is a labor of love," said Empty Bowls Committee member, Cindy Wobbe.
There were several changes this year; most noticeable was a change in venue. [Yet] at times, even the Florence Events Center (FEC) appeared to be too small for this popular event. A long line formed inside the FEC lobby and stretched out the front doors as shoppers waited for their chance to buy a unique piece of art for a good cause.
Empty Bowls was started in Michigan in the early 1990s as a way for artists and art students to make a personal difference through their art. Since then, it has become an international fund raiser, raising millions of dollars to fight hunger worldwide.
“It’s a direct link. People relate to buying a bowl to help put food on someone’s table,” said Lyn.
For the Southern Oregon University Softball team, it really is the season of sharing. The 20 college girls who make up the team take great care in selecting presents for a less fortunate Southern Oregon family.
"We started this tradition three years ago when Coach Fritts came, and each year we get assigned a Christmas family," says SOU Softball Senior Utility Player Joelle Riekeman. "The best part is knowing we're doing a good thing. We all plan ahead to save to be able to do this," says Riekeman. For some girls, that includes giving up their weekly Starbucks runs.
While the Raider softball team is gearing up for their regular season, the girls are never too busy to give back to the community they represent.
"Even though we're in college, we can definitely make a difference. Every little bit helps, even if it's just setting aside 10 or 15 dollars. When we combine it all, it makes for everyone else to have a really good Christmas, and I think people just need to realize there is a lot out there you can do," says Riekeman.
"We all know we have a lot of memories throughout our college experiences, but this is one we can go back and say we gave gifts to families in need, we had a feast and had a lot of fun decorating balls," says Fritts.
It was icy in the West Hills, and the road was steep. Todd Patterson was driving to the store to buy firewood when he saw an elderly woman in a beat-up maroon sedan, wheels spinning, stuck on the hill.
Patterson, 29, is a student in the Concordia University master's degree program, and someday he wants to teach high school social studies to native Spanish-speaking students. But on Tuesday he just wanted to help. So he pulled his truck to the side of the road, skated to the rear bumper and started pushing along with another man who had stopped to help.
Of course, cars drove past. Lots of them. [But] what's the holiday season without a feel-good surprise?
A black luxury SUV coming down the hill slowed, then pulled to the side and stopped. Its windows were tinted. The driver door opened, and a man with a blue walking boot on his left foot stepped out and tip-toed across the ice to help.
It was Martell Webster.
The Blazers small forward will miss another month of play because of a stress fracture in his left foot. X-rays last week revealed the injury that has kept him out for all but a few minutes of the season isn't improving. So maybe he was acting against medical advice when he stopped to help move that car, but the grandmother who raised Webster with good values and a love for others would tell you he was just doing what he was taught.
"It was the way I was raised," Webster said. "If someone needs help, you stop and help them."
Webster got there, the car got going. The senior floored it, sped up the hill and disappeared over the crest. The other man helping walked off, too. But Patterson just stood there, looking at Webster, wondering how in the world one of the biggest Blazers fans in the city had come face to face on the hill with a player he loves to cheer for.
Western Oregon University and the Central Lion's Club partnered again in December to help needy families in the Monmouth and Independence area.
Local basketball fans benefitted as well. On Saturday, December 13, those attending Western Oregon women's and men's basketball games at the Physical Education Building can gained free admission with two cans of food or other non-perishable food items.
All food items were donated to the Ella Curran Food Bank, serving Monmouth and Independence.