In the 2009-2010 school year, Carlee Davis was discussing how to make a difference in her community with her AP art teacher, Mr. Lowe.

Carlee was working towards her Gold Award project for Girl Scouts. The Gold Award is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of the USA, earned by Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts. Only 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award.

For the Gold Award, scouts must find a need in their community and come up with a plan of action that is sustainable for years to come. Davis had heard of other schools with ceramics programs sponsoring an Empty Bowls event, and she thought, “Why not here?”

“We started by making bowls, Davis said. "There was an after-school ceramics group that would meet up and we just spent time making bowls."

With the help of her art teachers, other students and community members, Carlee collected soup ingredients, promoted the event and sold tickets.

Empty Bowls is an international organization that raises funds and awareness to fight hunger. So Davis chose the Meals for Kids “backpack program,” a program run by the Community Services Clearinghouse in Fort Smith. Every Friday during the school year, the Clearinghouse sends home a bag of food to students in the River Valley whose families struggle with food insecurity.

Davis recounted her experience recently when contacted by current VBHS art teacher Kara Holland.

“From a girl scout perspective," Davis said, " I had to log all of my hours, keep journal entries on what I was accomplishing towards the big goal and check in at my girl scout meetings. I had to have so many hours invested into it. The requirements were that I had to do something that would potentially have a long term effect on my community within a certain length of time.” 

Empty Bowls has done exactly that, with VBHS Art Club raising anywhere from $1,500 - $3,500 per year for the past 9 years with those funds benefiting the Meals for Kids program.

“I’m really proud to say that we have kept the vision going that Carlee started with her teacher Mr. Lowe 10 years ago, " said Holland. "My art teacher mentors Robert Lowe and Kathy Hubbs passed the torch to me during my first year teaching, showing me the ropes of this huge charity event. With the help of my fellow art teachers (Marianne Nicodemus and Marcus Koch), countless community partners, a supportive staff and administration and hundreds of art students, we will continue to host this event to help feed hungry kids."

The event will be held at the Van Buren High School Commons area from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for children and can be purchased in advance at the VBHS front office or at the door the night of the event.

For the ticket price, guests are invited to pick out a hand built ceramic bowl. This year, the Pointer Place Cafe is preparing creamy chicken and vegetable soup and the Grapevine Cafe is providing fresh baked bread.

After guests finish dinner from their bowl, a student will wash the bowl and guests will be able to take their bowl home as a reminder of the empty bowls throughout our community and the world.