Empty Bowls, Full Hearts

Ludwig van Beethoven once said, “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.” And if you ask the staff of the Virginia Peninsula Empty Bowls (VPEB) agency about our middle school Scripture class, they might tell you that “Only the generous in heart can make a good soup bowl.

OLMC 7th and 8th grade Scripture students contributed artwork last month to the annual fundraising event for the local Empty Bowls agency. The students were inspired to help after a visit from VPEB volunteer Linda Haugh. She explained to the students that the Empty Bowl project began in Michigan in 1990, as a way to draw attention to the plight of hungry Americans. Since then, the concept has expanded across the United States, raising millions of dollars in donations for hunger-fighting agencies.

The concept is simple:  local artists create ceramic bowls and donate them to the annual soup and bread supper. Patrons purchase tickets in advance and attend the dinner; a simple meal is eaten and artists’ bowls are purchased to raise additional money. All proceeds from these events are used to feed the local poor.

Ten of our students created lovely ceramic bowls to help fight hunger in Hampton Roads. Some used forms to hand-shape their bowls, while others used clay coiled into ropes. The students fired their bowls, applied glazing and fired them a final time. The creations were then delivered to the agency for inclusion in its annual dinner.

OLMC art teacher Lauren Rosenbaum, who managed the preparation and delivery, saw this event as an opportunity to merge service with talents: “I think the most valuable part of the whole experience was the chance to be part of something larger. There are so many needs right here in our community. It is great to be a small part of helping alleviate hunger in a creative way!”

Read and Feed Partnership

OLMC Church’s Cub Scouts, Wolf Dens 5 and 6 partnered with the school community to host a blended service and fundraising opportunity. From Nov. 26 through Dec. 1, the school library hosted the annual Scholastic Book Fair, a pre-Christmas fundraiser. Students could participate in its “wild west” book fair theme by wearing western garb to school for a day… if they also brought a can of food to donate to the Wolves’ food drive.

The parish dens chose to do the food drive to earn their Council Fire belt loop, a community service requirement for their rank. Wolf Den Leaders Jered Benoit, Jason Southworth, Scott Splinter and Jason Weischedel worked with the Scouts to plan the event, which quickly blossomed with contributions from others.

Mrs. Tina Wandersee, Director of Social Ministry for OLMC Church, offered to receive the donations on behalf of local clients who benefit from the OLMC Food Pantry. Sarah Weischedel, a parent at OLMC, and her husband, Den 6 leader Jason, wanted to set up the event in a fun and meaningful way. They contacted Sr. Maria Frassati, OLMC principal, to inquire about teaming up with the school. Sister was eager to help and agreed to provide the donation incentive of wearing a western accessory to school. Mrs. Jennifer Kunz, school librarian, also offered a prize for the class with the most donated items.

Our students responded enthusiastically, donning bandanas, cowboy boots, studded belts and flannel shirts as they eagerly donated 718 cans of food at the entrance to the book fair. Miss Bender’s first grade and Mr. Stephenson’s sixth grade won the competition, earning a treat and special reading time from Mrs. Kunz.

The real winners, however, were the students who learned the importance of serving others. After unloading their collection at the church, Mrs. Wandersee asked the Scouts to stock the food on the shelves, an activity that turned out to be their favorite.

One of the Scouts commented on how much he liked one of the foods that was donated. Mrs. Wandersee shared an important message, saying “It’s important for us to donate our very best, especially the items we like. Just because someone is less fortunate doesn’t mean that they deserve less.”

She gave the boys a tour of the pantry and explained the important work that her office does. “The OLMC Food Pantry serves more than 1,000 people each year, providing nearly 80,000 donated food items to impoverished families. The need is especially great during the holiday season.”

Den Leader Weischedel expressed the den leaders’ pride in the Cub Scouts, saying “I am very proud of the Scouts and how hard they worked to provide food for others during this holiday season.” He emphasized how the OLMC Cub Scouts work tirelessly each year, providing many other services to the community, including:

• Collecting over 200 shirts and hats for the Saint Vincent Social Action Center, a local homeless clothing garage
• Helping Knights of Columbus Council 5480 with their February Run for the Heart event and monthly “Adopt-a-Spot” clean-up projects
• Laying wreaths on veterans’ graves at the Hampton National Cemetery, in honor of the national Wreaths Across America project
• Working with OLMC School and Parish to clean up the grounds and deliver additional food for the food pantry

For more information on the OLMC Cub Scouts, please contact Cubmaster Jon Sargent at jonsarg@yahoo.com or (757) 525-0077‬. Donations to the food pantry are always accepted. Please bring non-perishable food items to OLMC Church and feel free to drop them in the large bins in the Commons area.

Bring Your Service Member to School Day

To honor our OLMC military – active duty, retired, reserve and veterans – our school hosted a special celebration for Veterans Day in November. More than 50 personnel representing all six branches of the armed forces attended our “Bring Your Service Member to School” event.

Kathy McKenna, emcee and OLMC Military Liaison, coordinated the event with a team of enthusiastic volunteers. “Our goal was to convey gratitude,” she said. “We wanted not only to thank our military for their service, but we also wanted to thank them for giving OLMC the opportunity to teach our students the importance of the virtue of patriotism.”
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