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Oliverian, an alternative high school, gives back

Journal Opinion of Bradford, Vermont

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NORTH HAVERHILL Have you heard of the Empty Bowl Project?

The Empty Bowl Project, an international fundraiser aiming to end hunger around the world, has come to the Upper Valley. The project, which originated in Michigan in 1990, invites community members to craft handmade bowls, and then and eat soup together out of the donated bowls. Participants are encouraged to keep their bowls in exchange for a donation to a local organization dedicated to feeding the hungry.

Bessa Axelrod and Liz Swin dell, teachers at the Oliverian School in Pike, organized an Empty Bowl fundraiser at the school this winter, with the help of students and staff. Axelrod, director of art, and Swindell, dorm parent, first introduced this idea to the school community in the fall.

Students and staff were asked to work together with their dorms to create bowls in our pottery studio. At a recent family weekend event, parents, staff and students were encouraged to buy one of the completed bowls as a reminder of all the hungry people and empty bowls in the world. Rather than price each bowl, community members were asked to make anonymous donations. The bowls sold quickly, and ultimately raised over $400 forthe Horse Meadow Senior Center in North Haverhill.

Head of School Will Laughlin was very pleased with the entire process.

He said, "The Empty Bowl Project represents the spirit of Oliverian: We stand shoulder to shoulder, staff and students, creative and meaningful."

Oliverian students come from all over world, and express gratitude to this community for making them feel welcome. Students wanted to help out and give back in a different way, and to help those less fortunate in our community.

Senior Chris Geleske, of Illinois, didn't create a bowl of his own, but "is proud to be a part of a school that is aware of its community and all it does for us, and tries to give back."

Everyone who participated in the event was proud to be a part of it. Oliverian parent, Deborah Kaple, said "My daughter found a school that she enjoy s, and giving back to the community feels great which is why we bought two bowls!"

One of the artists, dorm parent Reed McFarland, was happy to have the opportunity to help, and said the process of creating the bowls "was a valuable bonding experience with my residents."

The Horse Meadow Senior Center, whose mission is to help older adults and adults with disabilities living in our community with their health and independent living, was very grateful for the donation. Deb Foster, director of the center, was happy to tour Oliverian representatives around the busy facility.

Volunteers deliver 90-100 homemade meals a day, and also provide hot meals at the Center for an additional 40-100 daily visitors The money donated by Oliverian will be put towards cooking nutritious, balanced meals for area residents in need.

To learn more about the Empty Bowls Fundraiser, or to start your own, please see emptybowls.org.

Olivia Acker, Maya Centeno, and Hannah Greatbatch are students in a winter journalism class at the Oliverian School.



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Original Publication Date: March 25, 2015



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