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Riverhead students come together for Empty Bowls fundraiser

Community members formed a line out the door of the Riverhead High School cafeteria Thursday to purchase homemade soup.

The soups — Italian minestrone, creamy corn chowder, loaded potato and broccoli cheddar — were made in mass by students in the high school’s cooking club and sold to eager and hungry guests who attended the second annual Empty Bowls fundraiser.

In addition to purchasing the soup, guests purchased a ceramic bowl made by students in the school’s ceramics class. The money from the sale of the bowls, which came in different sizes sold for four, six and 10 dollars respectively, went to benefit the Phillips Avenue Food Pantry.

“I think it’s really great because it’s so many different clubs coming together and classes coming together, so it really incorporates a lot of the arts,” art teacher Selena Pagliarulo said. “And it’s something that gives back significantly to the community. People really love to support things like that and the kids really get excited about it.”

In its second year, the event raised $1,547 through the sale of 130 bowls. Roberta MacGray, family and consumer science teacher and cooking club advisor, said last year the event raised $1,100, and so the students purchased 11 $100 gift cards to Aldi’s that were given to the food pantry.

“What we want to do is give our local food pantry donations to help our local community, our local families,” Ms. MacGray said.

The event was made possible by the efforts of students in numerous disciplines in the high school.

In addition to the bowls made by the ceramics students — who made two bowls for each assignment, one to keep and one to donate to Empty Bowls, Ms. Pagliarulo said — students in the cooking club spent the day before the event prepping by peeling and dicing all the vegetables.

On Thursday, they spent hours making large batches of soup, running them from the kitchen to the cafeteria in order to meet the night’s high demand.

Sharrise Martin is a 2017 graduate of Riverhead High School, and participated in both the cooking club and ceramics class during her time at the high school. She said she enjoyed last year’s event so much she decided to come back and help this year.

“I like doing this,” Ms. Martin, 19, said. “I like the fact that it’s helping others in the community and raising money because I feel like it’s a good thing to do at any age.”

Other clubs participated in the event as well. A three-piece flute ensemble and a string quartet performed during the two-hour event.

Additionally, interested faculty and students in the photography club paid a submission fee to have their photographs on display at the fundraiser. The majority of the pictures were also available for purchase that night.

“There was the submission fee that is going directly to the food pantry as a donation,” art teacher and photography club advisor Jo-Ann Dellaposta said. “And then any sales of the photographs in the show, 60 percent goes to the photo club and then 40 percent go back to the artist, almost like a gallery would do.”

Students said their favorite part of participating in the fundraiser was being able to give back to their community.

“Cooking club I love in general because we do so much giving back to the community, which I think is so awesome,” senior Lexus Gilliam, 17, said. “I like being able to raise all this money to give to families in our town that are struggling and don’t have food and are starving. I think it’s awesome we’re able to be a part of helping them.”

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