Brent Kaseman, of the Philomath Community Services Board of Directions, says a few words about his organization while students Peyten Lesire and Ava Foesenek look on. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Art club students made the bowls, culinary arts students made the soup and Philomath Community Services ended up with a $245 check to help those in need.

On Tuesday morning with the high school’s student body assembled in the auditorium for the annual talent show, an oversized check made its way to the stage for a donation presentation. Brent Kaseman, PCS board member who accepted the money to go toward community programs, said the effort by students was amazing.

“For the kids to take the time and to do something that’s going to result in people being fed and clothed is amazing,” Kaseman said.

Art teacher Andrea Heidinger said the student organization likes to do something to help a cause or do something for the community. The idea of an Empty Bowls fundraiser materialized.

Empty Bowls, a movement that dates back to 1990 through an idea by a Michigan art teacher,  raises money for food-related charities to help the hungry in their communities.

“Ceramicists throughout the nation, and probably even internationally, will make bowls at a certain time of year and then sell those bowls,” Heidinger explained. “Then they’ll give it (money raised) to usually food charities like food banks and soup kitchens. And so we did our own version of that.”

Philomath Community Services oversees Philomath Food Bank, Philomath Gleaners, Lupe’s Community Garden, June’s Kids Kloset and Holiday Cheer.

PHS students Peyten Lesire, from left, Ava Foesenek, Leaf Lewis, Ash Jorgens and Sunny Littrell take part in a presentation following Tuesday’s talent show to present Philomath Community Services with a donation. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“The mission of PCS is to make sure that everyone in our community has the basic necessities of life as far as food and clothing and even things like joy,” Kaseman said, the latter being a reference to Holiday Cheer. “This donation will go a long way.”

The effort picked up momentum after Heidinger met with Mark McGuire, Philomath Community Services support specialist, about the idea.

Heidinger said the art students joined forces with the culinary arts class “who make soup in the spring anyway and usually make a soup lunch for teachers and staff.”

The students worked on the bowls for more than three weeks as they completed each step to create the ceramic bowls. They were sold in late April.

“We had a lot of fun; we did a lot of unique pieces and we really enjoyed it,” PHS Art Club member Peyten Lesire said. “The best part was we collaborated with the culinary arts program, which provided really delicious soup.”

Heidinger said that when the club brainstormed about what cause they wanted to take on, PCS came into focus.

“They were like, ‘I’ve used those community services’ and knew about them personally and they had personal experiences, which was kind of beautiful really to give back,” Heidinger said. “I really liked what they had their lens on — it was pretty neat.”

PHS student Ava Foesenek said the culinary arts program was glad to be able to provide something great for the community.

“Since culinary arts is an advanced group class, it takes a lot of teamwork and effort to get things done,” Foesenek said. “We are so grateful we got to use our skills with the art club to provide something for Philomath Community Services.”

On stage, Kaseman told students about the importance of food-related organizations.

“There’s a lot of things in life to enjoy but if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, that’s when everything is going to fade into the background,” he said.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.