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McKENZIE (November 29) — The McKenzie High School Beta Club hosted the Empty Bowls Soup Supper Thursday at the Farmers Market. The event was the culmination of months of diligent work by Beta …
McKENZIE (November 29) — The McKenzie High School Beta Club hosted the Empty Bowls Soup Supper Thursday at the Farmers Market. The event was the culmination of months of diligent work by Beta Club members and MHS art students to benefit Carroll County’s most vulnerable residents.
After expenses, about $700 in proceeds from Empty Bowls was donated to the Carroll County Community Action Center’s baby supply closet.
Approximately 90 patrons attended the event, where they chose uniquely handcrafted bowls created by MHS art students and enjoyed a selection of 22 soups and several desserts prepared by Beta parents and served by Beta members.
As they dined, guests enjoyed music by MHS senior Sierra Keenan, junior Beta member Claudia Patrick and McKenzie graduate and former Beta member Emily Lunn.
A special guest was Amber Gilmer, the county service manager for the Carroll County Community Action Center, an office of the Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council. She spoke about the variety of programs offered by the organization to directly benefit low-income families in the county. The programs include home energy assistance, temporary food assistance, Head Start/Early Head Start, a clothing closet and the aforementioned baby supply closet.
The existence of the closet is a direct result of the work of the Beta Club, who organized the program as an offshoot of the clothing closet. Gilmer credited her organization’s ability to provide that service to the support of the MHS Beta Club.
The club’s service team, consisting of team leader Olivia Wright, team spokesperson Nathan Rorer, Drew Beeler, Lauren Mansfield, Allie Chappell and Ashlyn Drewry, began its service project at the beginning of the school year. The service project is an expansion of last year’s “Rebel Closet” project, which gathered supplies to benefit McKenzie students in need. The club aimed to grow the concept to a countywide scale, and teamed up with Gilmer and the NWTEDC to support the clothing closet and establish the baby supply closet.
They chose as a fundraiser Empty Bowls, a project used internationally to fight hunger, and immediately consulted MHS art teacher B. J. Hardwick. Hardwick agreed to take on the daunting task of leading her students in crafting hundreds of bowls in just a matter of months.
Hardwick’s three art classes comprise 75-80 students, and, utilizing the school’s recently-purchased kiln, these students created around 200 finished bowls, right up to the day of the event.
During a demonstration for The Banner, Hardwick explained that each unique bowl takes up to two hours total labor to craft over the course of two weeks. Each bowl begins as a block of clay, which is sliced and then flattened in a press. The sheet is molded to form a bowl shape and designs are carved into the outside of the structure. Then begins a lengthy process that includes applying various glazes, drying and two trips to the kiln for “bisque firing” and “glaze firing.”
In addition to the work of her students during class time, she credits completion of the bowls to a core group of students that put in countless hours of time outside of class: Wesley Bynum, Kandice Ward, Landon Winchester, Madison Minard, Sawyer Phipps, Ellaina Moreno, Aubree Glissen, Olivia Henderson, Lyndsey Summers, Zach Laser and West Cook.
Hardwick noted that the bowls are dishwasher, microwave and food safe.
Beyond the enormous pride that comes from making a positive impact on the community, the service team has brought recognition and accolades to the MHS Beta Club with successes at recent Beta events. At a regional leadership conference in Tupelo, Mississippi in October, the team won the service project competition. Then, in November, the project earned fourth place at the state level in the Service Snapshot Competition in Nashville. Each of those achievements earns the team a slot in competition at the National Beta Convention in Oklahoma City in June.
MHS Beta Club sponsors are Kevin Gallimore, Lizz Gonzalez and Beth Bailey. They are proud of the work of the club and also expressed thanks for the assistance of Hardwick and the art students, the City of McKenzie, parents Ashley Beeler and Mandy Drewry and everyone else who helped support the Empty Bowls event.