GREENCASTLE -- The Waller family lives in a small two-bedroom house that they heat with a propane tank when they can afford to buy gas for it. Their groceries mostly come from local food pantries and they buy clothing and furniture from the store at the Putnam County Senior Center and Goodwill.
They are one of many hundreds of people who will benefit from the Putnam County Empty Bowls Project sponsored by the Putnam County United Way and students in the "Community-based Art Projects" class at DePauw University.
The two are partnering to implement a community art project that will support the fight against hunger in the county.
"Our goals are to raise money to help organizations fight hunger, to raise awareness about the issues of hunger and food security, and to help bring about an attitude that will not allow hunger to exist, said Meredith Brickell, assistant professor of art at DePauw.
All Putnam County residents are invited to participate in this project by helping to make and glaze ceramic bowls during a series of hands-on workshops in Greencastle, Russellville and Bainbridge.
These workshops will be held throughout the month of April and are open to anyone interested in the project -- no previous art or clay experience is necessary.
"The bowls will be made through the collaborative efforts of community members; one person may make a bowl and another may glaze it.
Each bowl will be a representation of this shared community experience," explained Brickell.
Participants can attend workshops at any location and should wear comfortable clothing that can get a little dirty.
Then, on May 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the community is invited to join friends and neighbors at Robe-Ann Park for a meal served in the handmade bowls.
Attendees will take home a bowl to keep in their home as a reminder of the hunger issues that exist in their community.
Cash and non-perishable food donations are appreciated and will help support the Bainbridge Food Pantry and United Way of Putnam County Food and shelter organizations.
Putnam County businesses and residents will also be asked to donate food for the event at Robe-Ann Park.
The workshops to be held in Bainbridge have been scheduled for April 7 and 21 at the Community Center. They will run from 4-6:30 p.m. There is no charge to participate.
The workshops schedules for Russellville and Greencastle will be announced in the next few weeks. Check www.putnamcountyemptybowls.webs.com for updates.
All of these workshops are open to anyone interested in the project.
This project borrows from the Empty Bowls framework established by the Imagine/RENDER Group, a non-profit organization that helps prevent hunger using a number of community-based strategies www.emptybowls.net.
"From its humble beginnings as a meal for the staff of one high school, Empty Bowls has spread across the United States and beyond and has raised tens of millions of dollars for anti-hunger organizations," said Putnam United Way Director David English.
"It's something we hope we'll be able to do here in Putnam County every year," he added.