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Bolton kids reach out

Fifth-graders lead Empty Bowls project, raise $1,700 for three causes


Students at Bolton Primary School wrapped up the 2013-14 school year with a three-pronged fundraiser, turning empty clay bowls into a $1,700 kitty that will be divided between the West Linn Food Pantry, a project to beautify Bolton and a bevy of supplies for a Peace Corps project in Ghana.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Brooke Abrell, a second-grader at Bolton last school year, adds paint to the bowl she created for the Empty Bowls fundraising event.The effort was led by Bolton’s two fifth-grade classrooms, under the guidance of teachers Kelley Jones and Lisa Terrall. Although the impetus came from Jones, the fifth-graders quickly took over the project.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Teacher Lisa Terrall displays bowls made by students at Bolton. Students in Terrall and Kelley Jones fifth-grade classes led the schools 300 students in a fundraiser known as Empty Bowls.Jones was the one who first hit upon the idea of using empty bowls to raise money at Bolton. The Empty Bowls Project is an international campaign to fight hunger using a simple tool: handcrafted bowls that can be exchanged for a cash donation. Some groups then fill those bowls with a simple meal of soup; others choose simply to use the empty bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls and people in need throughout the world.

Amanda Whittington and Emma Cook are two of the fifth-grade leaders who embraced the concept and set to work generating interest in and excitement around the project.

“It started out first to end hunger,” Amanda said. “We are also using it to end hunger, for the West Linn Food Pantry.”

The fifth-graders wanted to do more, however.

“Our teacher’s son is in Ghana,” Emma said. “He’s helping build a school. We’re hoping to help them raise money for supplies, like books, pencils, chairs and desks.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Grace Sato created this bowl for Boltons fundraiser at the end of her third grade year.A third cause rose to the top of the list: the students’ own school community.

“If we have extra money, we’re going to use it to make our school beautiful,” Emma said.

“We’re leaving, but we think it would be really nice, because we love this school,” Amanda said.

And so the students went to work. Fifth-grade leaders worked with younger students, showing them how to shape their own bowls so that each of Bolton’s approximately 300 students could create one.

The bowls were offered for sale to parents during the last week of school. The fifth-graders asked for a minimum $5 donation per bowl. The event was a success, on all three fronts.

“It was fantastic,” Jones said. “We probably had 95 percent of the bowls sold, and if they didn’t get sold we sent them home with the kids. We had a really great response from parents. So many of them said, ‘What a great way to fundraise.’”

Fifth-graders benefited from their own efforts, too, in surprising ways.

“We were teaching them skills along the way, how to do the fundraiser, how to teach other children how to make the bowls, how to send a listserv (message),” Jones said. “It really covered the gamut of skills that they need to make money for their community.”

The $1,700 raised will be used to fund three projects. One-third of it will be devoted to continuing Bolton’s longstanding relationship with the local food pantry.

“We give them fresh food every year from our (school) garden,” Jones said. “They always talk about how they run out after the holiday rushes, when people are doing a lot of collecting. ... by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Three hundred Bolton students made and sold empty bowls like these. They raised $1,700 for three causes: the West Linn Food Pantry, a Peace Corps project in Ghana and a Bolton beautification project.Again, it’s giving kids access to an understanding that there are all different kinds in our community. Sometimes people need help, and we can do that.”

One-third of the money will go toward the Peace Corps project Jones’ son is working on.

“They had money to build the school but they needed additional funds,” she said.

The final portion of the money raised will be used on a project right at Bolton.

“Fifth-grade leaders will always do something to beautify or make our school better,” Jones said. “Our plan is, we have that solid brick surface as soon as you drive into the parking lot. We figured that if we put some plants there ... it will soften that wall and also maybe cool and protect a little bit.”

All told, the project was a success — so much so that Jones is already thinking about doing it again next year.

“A lot of parents said, ‘I would love it if this happened every year, and I could buy my child’s bowl every year. We’d have this collection,’” she said. “It was quite a thing to have 300 children make bowls.”

Bolton’s latest graduates are happy to recommend the project to their successors atop Bolton’s class ladder.

“It made us feel more responsible, and good that we’re helping people,” Amanda said.


By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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