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UTPA art department helps RGV Food Bank fight hunger in the community
Contact: Stephanie Cavin, Intern 956-665-2741
Posted: 08/02/2011
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Faculty and students of The University of Texas-Pan American's art department volunteered their time, skills and creativity to help the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley prepare for its upcoming fundraiser by guiding craftspeople, educators and community members in making handcrafted bowls.

The University of Texas-Pan American hosted the annual Throw-a-Thon July 30 to help the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley with its Empty Bowls fundraiser slated for September. About 60 people, including UTPA faculty, students and community members created bowls that will be used for the event.

Sixty people participated in the UTPA's Food Bank Throw-A-Thon event, held on July 30, to work toward the goal of making 1,000 bowls for the food bank's Empty Bowls luncheon in September. UTPA art students crafted bowls and taught young potters the process involved in creating a clay bowl, which includes using a potter's wheel, throwing clay and glazing their work. The handcrafted bowls will be used at the luncheon.

Money raised at that event will be donated to the food bank, an organization which works to end hunger in the Valley.

Richard Hyslin, art professor at UTPA, said some handcrafted bowls may be used as bowls, while others are simply used for decoration. However, all bowls are meant to serve as a reminder of those who must go without food. Hyslin believes it is important for students to take part in this event.

"Students can use their skills and what they've learned to participate in this project, which not only gives them the idea of helping and participating in the community, but also makes them aware of the needs of the community," he said.

The UTPA art department has been participating in Empty Bowls for six years, and Hyslin said they plan on continuing to do their part to support the RGV Food Bank in its endeavor.

UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen, who attended the event with his wife Jody, a volunteer with the food bank, said events like the Throw-a-Thon show the University's dedication to serving the community.

"In our community there is great need and we at UT Pan Am are committed to helping our community not only by educating and preparing our students for the workforce, but also by community service efforts such as this," Nelsen said. "We will continue to work hand in hand with the people in the Valley to overcome poverty and hunger. This event is a creative and fun way our faculty, students and family members can support this worthy project."

Karen Featherston, special events manager of the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, said she appreciates the University's support and believes UTPA students will continue to give back to the community.

Members of the community, with the help of faculty and students of UTPA's art department, crafted bowls July 30 that will go to the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley for its annual Empty Bowls event.

"UTPA has been a big supporter of our food bank for quite a while now," Featherston said. "It's very generous of them to take the time to create the bowls, and even ex-students and professors come in on their own time to help support us. Students who are involved in a nonprofit organization, especially one like the food bank where people are in need of food every day, become well-rounded individuals once they are out of college, experienced and moving forward into the future."

Empty Bowls events take place across the United States and have spread to at least a dozen other countries. The events have made people aware of those who suffer from hunger in each community and have raised millions of dollars in donations to organizations dedicated to ending hunger, such as the RGV Food Bank.

The luncheon will be held Sept. 22 at the Pharr Events Center from 11a.m.-2p.m. With a $25 donation, one can sample food from local area chefs, participate in a silent auction and pick a handcrafted bowl to take home.

Restaurants participating in the event include Bistro M, P.F. Chang's, Mama's Garden Cottage "Tea Room," House Wine and Cornerstone Grill. Tickets may be purchased online at the food bank's website.