Prep Beat

JIM PETERS: Hebron High School helping fill empty bowls

2014-01-16T18:00:00Z 2014-01-17T01:43:09Z JIM PETERS: Hebron High School helping fill empty bowlsJim Peters Times Columnist
January 16, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

With well-stocked cupboards and refrigerators, most of us don't know what real hunger is.

"We are very fortunate to go to bed at night and have no issue," Hebron High School art teacher Karen Jania said.

In reality, one of every six Americans does face the struggle of getting enough to eat.

Five years ago, Jania initiated the Empty Bowls program, a local endeavor that's part of a national campaign to end hunger and food insecurity. It has raised roughly $10,000 for the Hebron Country Pantry.

"It's a really nice experience for the whole school," Jania said. "It's turned into something bigger than just the art department."

On Jan. 31, Hebron will host Empty Bowls 2014. The event includes a meal, live entertainment, silent auction, a Bouncy House and the choice of a hand-made ceramic bowl. The school had to cut its consumer and family sciences program this year, so other sources had to be found to provide food. Several local restaurants have agreed to contribute, and teacher Jared Grigsby has already made and frozen five gallons of chili. Afterward, the Hawks boys basketball team will host North Judson with 50-50 proceeds added to the funds.

"I wasn't teaching here until last year, so I didn't know much about it," coach John Steinhilber said. "I felt really bad. I kept hearing about it, but had never gotten involved. When they started talking about it this year, I went to Karen and said I want to be a part of this. It's for a great cause. Any time anything involves somebody other than you, it's a good thing to get the team into it."

Earlier this week, Steinhilber and his team tried their hand at making bowls. Let's just say they earned an A for effort.

"Ryan Schmidt said Mrs. Jania should use mine to show exactly what not to do," Steinhilber said. "I think it was Drew (Wheeler) who said, 'Hey coach, you know that kid on the team who asks a lot of questions? Well, you're doing that right now.' There was a lot of teamwork, 'Hey, you're doing this wrong, do it this way.' We all checked our egos at the door. You get to the see the kids in a different light."

Hawks senior Tony Rose was the only player to have taken an art class, but wasn't calling himself a da Vinci.

"I was just trying to have fun with the guys," Rose said. "It was fun to bond with the team in something other than sports, to sit and laugh with each other. Stein's was by far the worst one out there. It was a great feeling knowing that we were helping the community as a team, doing something for a greater cause."

Jania's students serve as instructors, one assigned to per table of "artists" to assist in the process.

"We try to take the fear out of it and make it more fun," she said. "The best part is when you have a table full of teachers, and now the kids are the ones instructing. The superintendent has been in. The principal. The guidance counselor. Maintenance. Parents. Grandparents. The A.D. has been great. John and the boys jumped right in. We're a small school. People are involved in so many things. I just appreciate them finding the time. I'm surrounded by terrific people."

The bowl making will continue after school with a final goal of 250. The basketball team offered to return to make more if needed. Each bowl will be stamped on the bottom to serve as an ongoing reminder in people's homes that there will always be empty bowls somewhere.

"I want to give Karen all the credit," Steinhilber said. "She's got a great thing going. It's fun helping other people. You're learning about life. That's why I wanted to be involved."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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