Art meets community service this Saturday, as the seventh annual Empty Bowl Project takes place at Vandora Springs Elementary School in Garner.

Handcrafted ceramic bowls created by fourth-grade Art Club students at the school will be bartered off on Saturday in exchange for local food pantry donations.

Art teacher Jim Hunt leads the student effort; he’s been involved in the international Empty Bowls Project for 20-plus years, and says schools all over the world take part.

“The projects may differ from school to school, but the goal of all of them is to gather food,” he said.

This year’s handmade ceramic bowls — numbering more than 80 — are painted in metallic and iridescent hues, with some boasting a mother-of-pearl sheen.

The “exchange rate” is one bowl per 20 non-perishable food items, which will be delivered to nearby Garner Area Ministries’ food pantry, serving local families in need.

The project is important to both the students and the Garner community, Hunt says.

“It gives the students a chance to use their talents to reach out to help people. And all the food donations go right back into our community, to the shelves of Garner Area Ministries,” he said.

New this year, all bowls will be showcased in the Vandora Springs Elementary cafeteria for the convenience of guests, who can choose a bowl and drop off their food donations in one stop.

Students will sort and box the food donations, which Hunt notes can go beyond canned goods to include pasta, cereal and more.

Bowl-a-Rama will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or until all the bowls are gone.

The school is located at 1300 Vandora Springs Road in Garner. For more information, call the school at (919) 662-2486.

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