The Merrill Noon Optimists will soon be teaming up with the Food For Kids program to combat hunger for youth in the local community. As a means of supporting the effort, local Optimist Club member Jeni Hinz has spearheaded the organization of a local “Empty Bowls” fundraiser, in partnership with Studio 808 of Merrill.
By dropping by Studio 808 and making a $7 donation, fundraiser participants proceed to paint a ceramic bowl in the studio’s ceramic shop and that bowl will then be used during a pasta dinner this summer.
Originating in 1990, the Empty Bowls Project is a grassroots international movement to raise funds and awareness in the fight to end hunger.
“This is a great way to increase awareness of hunger, while supporting an excellent program in our community,” Hinz explains. “Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the local Food For Kids program, which provides food for students in need in local schools. With parental approval, this is accomplished by teachers placing food in student backpacks for the weekend.”
From now through the end of June, participants are welcomed to bring their imagination and stop in to Studio 808 to receive their bowl. The $7 donation covers the cost associated with painting the bowl. Bowls will then be distributed at random during the upcoming 1st Annual “Pay it Forward Pasta dinner.” However, for an additional $3 donation, participants may reserve their bowl.
Studio 808 owner Shelby Dzownkowski appears to mirror Hinz’s excited and optimism about the project.
“We were approached by Jeni asking if we were interested in participating due to the ceramic side of our business,” she explains. “We were very interested from the start, as we had looked into doing something similar prior to being contacted by Jeni. This is such a great cause,” Dzownkowski adds with a smile. “This is a great way for the community to get involved and give back, while doing something fun!”
Open paint times coincide with regular business hours at Studio 808 of 3-7 p.m., Monday-Friday; noon-6 p.m. on Saturdays; and noon-4 p.m. on Sundays. No registration is necessary and all ages are welcome.
While details are still being worked out regarding the dinner, Hinz expects the Pay It Forward Dinner to be held sometime early this summer.
“When a person receives the empty bowl, it serves as an instant reminder of hunger in our community,” Hinz adds. “Then by painting the bowls, participants are given an opportunity to make an impact on hunger in the community.”