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Hundreds buy pottery to combat hunger (Video)

By BY JESSICA PRIEST - JPRIEST@VICAD.COM
Feb. 11, 2013 at 12:01 a.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2013 at 8:11 p.m.

Paula Mitte receives a bowl of minestrone during the Empty Bowls event at the Victoria College Student Center. The Empty Bowls fundraiser had a goal of raising more than $13,000.

Who are the potters?

Victoria College ceramic students, faculty and staff, along with a few other volunteers, made the bowls:

•  Gerry Bernhard - Santa Rosa Potter

•  Eva Cavazos

•  Debra Chronister

•  Matthew Durham

•  Tom Faulkner

•  Mina Haggard

•  Margaret Janowski-Bell

•  Kevin Liu

•  Dave Miller

•  Anastasia Murphy

•  Huy Nguyen

•  Fern Olsen

•  Sherri Pall

•  Megan Perez

• Christine Thieme

•  Trent Thigpen

•  Cosette Williams

•  Bill Bauer, Victoria Art League

•  Victoria East High School students

Source: Victoria Empty Bowls flyer

Lila Foster picked up a royal blue bowl with orange flower embellishments that her friends swore was made in the 1950s.

After placing $2 on a table set up outside the Victoria College Student Center on Sunday, she strapped a protective mask to her face and flung the lightweight dish as far as she could.

It hit a chalk drawing of Bobo the Clown square in the face, and the organizers standing behind Foster erupted into cheers.

Besides getting some stress relief in, Foster and her friends were walking out the door of Victoria Empty Bowls project charity event for the second year in a row Sunday, happy to contribute to what they call a worthy cause - combating hunger in the Crossroads.

Just as their arms were full of handmade ceramic bounty, their stomachs were full of soup and bread, which they purchased for $15 to benefit area food banks. For an extra donation, people could smash the less perfect bowls.

That bowl "looked like it deserved it," Foster's sister, Sandra Neely, said, chuckling.

Neely said last year she hadn't been so lucky, choosing a bowl she'd much rather take home than smash into bits.

"I think I actually paid and ran off it with it instead," she said.

Inside, Victoria College associate professor Debra Chronister, who orchestrated the event, was thrilled by the early turnout. She said most people seemed to be snatching up heart-shaped bowls for their valentine, but each person is drawn to something different.

"It's hard to say which ones will go fastest or which ones will go first because you just never know. It's like a matchmaking game," she said, smiling as a country singer strummed a guitar and serenaded a crowd of diners behind her.

Now in its ninth year, the Victoria Empty Bowls project was bigger and better than ever, Chronister said, with upward of 500 bowls by area artisans on display.

Chronister was hoping to raise more than the normal $13,000. She said organizers wouldn't have a final count of the proceeds until Monday morning, but at 3 p.m. Sunday someone put down a record $100 at their bowl-bashing stand.

Amber Bagwell, a 35-year-old public relations manager from San Antonio, was a first-timer. She got word this was happening via an email from her mom a few days in advance. She dined on The PumpHouse's beer cheese sausage soup with her family after browsing the selection for some 15 minutes. The decision, she said, was not any easy one.

"All of them were so beautiful and unique ... but I'm happy with it," she said, turning over her choice, a blue and brown bowl, in her hands. "I can't wait to get it home and put it in my house."

Rox Slaughter, a 54-year-old Victoria resident, purchased a teal bowl with Cupid etched inside of it for her and her husband's upcoming 11th anniversary. But she said the day was about more than just the contents the bowl would hold at mealtime.

Slaughter has a personal connection with the hunger struggle, as her college-educated friend recently dealt with it after paying for some health issues.

She said the definition of homelessness and those that are hungry has evolved over time.

"Most people think that people in shelters are addicted to something," Slaughter said. "We all think it could never happen to us."

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