LOS BANOS -- The ceramics classroom at Los Banos Junior High School in recent weeks has become the headquarters for raising awareness about hunger.
"I've never been in a case where I've been hungry, but I can't imagine people, especially kids, not having something to eat," said Dick Gerbi, a Los Banos Rotary Club member.
Gerbi and about 20 of his fellow Rotarians, their families and friends have been shaping, decorating and painting ceramic bowls in the past few weeks in preparation for the Rotary Club's Empty Bowls fundraiser in December.
Empty Bowls, which is often organized by artists or other small groups, raises money to help organizations that fight hunger and raise hunger awareness. In December, the public will be invited to eat soup and purchase the bowls for $10. The proceeds will go to local organizations that feed the less fortunate.
For a third year, Los Banos Junior High ceramics teacher Jim Clarke is organizing the making of the bowls. He said it was imperative to start now.
"We want to have 400 to 500 bowls, and once we get into the school year I have a hard time trying to keep up with this and my classes," Clarke said.
Only scrap clay is accepted for the Empty Bowls project and everything that is not used gets recycled, said Clarke.
After they are painted, the ceramic bowls are placed in a kiln for four to five hours. Once finished, they take on a glossy appearance with vibrant colors.
On Monday some of the volunteers said they like to grab random colors; others have a definite idea of what they want the bowls to look like.
"I don't remember what I used last week," Rotarian George Hiatt said. "You just find what color you're going to paint it, grab a bowl and sit down."
Megan Miller, who participated in painting bowls for the first time Monday, said she wanted earth tones. Miller said she wanted to be a part of Empty Bowls because it can help the less fortunate.
"I decided to go and do something for the community, especially for the homeless," she said.
Los Banos Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at email@example.com.