Character counts at Cherokee
Nine-year-old Corey Trefa works on her clay bowl for Cherokee Elementary School's contribution to the Empty Bowls program, which raises money to aid the hungry. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 3:30PM
LAKE FOREST — Third-graders at Cherokee Elementary School will soon be learning an important lesson that doesn’t have anything to do with reading, writing or math.
The students will participate in a service learning project called Empty Bowls, which calls attention to worldwide hunger and helps make a difference by raising money in a unique way.
Empty Bowls is an international, grass-roots effort started by a non-profit called Imagine Render whose mission is to create positive and lasting change through the arts, education, and projects that build community.
The idea is simple. A group of people make ceramic bowls, serve a meal of soup and bread, and then sell the empty bowls as a reminder of those who truly have nothing to fill them.
This is what the third-graders at Cherokee will do at a luncheon on Saturday, Dec. 15. Bowls made by students and staff will be sold for $10 each and all the proceeds will go to Greater Food Depository of Lake County. Cherokee first did the project two years ago and raised about $2,200.
Chicken soup is being donated by Sunset Foods of Lake Forest while another local business, Lake Forest’s Caputo Cheese Market, is providing the bread.
Third-grade teacher Linda Biondi recalls first hearing about Empty Bowls at a conference on character education in Washington, D.C. Biondi said this type of education has been mandated in Illinois for the last five or six years. While some may say that schools don’t need to teach character, Biondi disagrees.
“I love teaching from this standpoint,” she said. “I think it’s so important and so vital.”
Biondi feels the Empty Bowls program provides an age-appropriate way to introduce the idea that the world is a harsh and difficult place for some people.
“Kids really understand the importance of helping others,” she said.
With this year’s event, Cherokee third-graders also will understand the work that goes into the planning and execution of a fund-raiser. The students do all the work themselves, Biondi said, from making fliers to serving the food at the luncheon and cleaning up afterwards.
“This is what teaching is all about. It can’t be just about opening a textbook.”