Marcos students do a good turn

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By Diana Whittle

Fine arts instructor Jasen Evoy guided his Marcos de Niza High School ceramics students in a class project to create handmade bowls for the annual effort to generate funds for Tempe Community Action Agency. [Billy Hardiman/Wrangler News]
Fine arts instructor Jasen Evoy guided his Marcos de Niza High School ceramics students in
a class project to create handmade bowls for the annual effort to generate funds for Tempe
Community Action Agency. [Billy Hardiman/Wrangler News]
The Empty Bowls project in Tempe is more than just a fundraising endeavor to benefit needy families: it’s also a chance for the whole community to come together in service, including youthful artists from local schools. Particularly committed are members of Jasen Evoy’s ceramics class at Marcos de Niza high school, who have contributed handmade bowls for 14 years. Evoy says he became involved with the project after a meeting with other ceramics teachers and thought it sounded like a great idea, not only because it gave purpose to his students’ work but because it is a worthy fundraiser for Tempe Community Action Agency. “I was happy to get on board. It’s a great project,” says Evoy, “because it inspires the kids to be creative in making the bowls. (It helps them) to realize the self-satisfaction that comes from helping others.” Bowls also come from Corona del Sol students and from 115 different Tempe Elementary School District classrooms. Evoy has taught for 17 years at Marcos, where he is a ceramics and Advanced Placement history teacher, as well as chair of the school’s Fine Arts Department. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s in curriculum and instruction. He’s also a hometown boy who graduated from Corona in 1991. In total, Marcos potters contributed 300 bowls, which were made in one day with clay that is donated by Marjon’s Ceramics. But the finished product takes several months, noted Evoy, and he oversees the entire process. “The bowls have to be trimmed, bisque-fired, glazed, fired again, and packed. Each firing takes a couple days, and it takes several firings to get all the bowls through.” Empty Bowls shows community concern for needy families in Tempe, and “the altruism benefits the clients who receive services from TCAA,” said Stephen Sparks, director of community investment for the agency. But the event would not be possible were it not for hundreds of potters — adults, teens, elementary-school children — crafting the bowls that the public purchases for a donation of $10. Then the empty bowls are filled with soup and bread donated for the 13th year by Tempe’s Whole Foods Market. The Empty Bowl event raised approximately $18,000 to benefit TCAA and United Food Bank, reports Sparks. He says the annual event is a way to draw diverse community resources together to provide long-term benefits for families struggling to make ends meet. TCAA has been the community’s primary social service organization, serving elderly and low-income community members since 1971. According to TCAA statistics, from 2010-2012, 23.8 percent of Tempeans lived in poverty. In addition, 26 percent of children under 18 were below the poverty level, compared with 4 percent of people 65 years old and over. In addition, 14 percent of all families and 35.4 percent of families with a female householder and no husband present had incomes below the poverty level. Evoy says he is proud to see how his students respond to being involved in the effort. “It makes them feel like they are part of something bigger by establishing a sense of community and fostering a stronger bond in the classroom.” For more information on the services of the TCAA, visit www.tempeaction.org

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