ILWACO - Tomato blue cheese, garlic potato truffle and miso vegetable were just some of the several delicious soups that area residents were treated to last Wednesday during the Empty Bowls fundraiser in the Pacific Aging Council Endeavors (PACE) dining room.

An event organized by students in the Highly Capable Program, Empty Bowls was created to promote hunger awareness in the community and benefit PACE. Lucky diners not only walked away with full tummies but also brought home unique handmade ceramic bowls.

A program for the talented and gifted, the Ocean Beach School District's Highly Capable Program has students throughout all grade levels.

"The middle school is doing the bowls," explains Highly Capable teacher Annie Fletcher. "It's an enrichment-type program developed to move them out of their comfort areas and let them explore new areas, shine and show where their own individual strengths are."

Susan Raymond of the Peninsula Arts Association donated the clay, glazes and time needed for 10 kids to create colorful, unique bowls in studio space at the Artisan in Ilwaco, provided by Truman and Donna Rew.

A community supported event, the evening's soups and breads were made and donated by local restaurants, chefs and bakers. Tough to choose which soup to try, guests dined on delectible creations with subtle mixes of flavor - all served by none other than the budding artists themselves.

Truly imaginative creations, guests had the option of choosing one of approximately 170 bowls available for purchase. Some were hand-built bowls, while others had been thrown on a wheel. Besides the wide variety of colors and textures, there were pieces with handles, decorative edges and even a bowl and a spoon holder in the shape of a fish. Local professional potters also donated a few bowls of their own.

"This is going to be a big thing for PACE," remarked DeAnn Kettwig, PACE executive director, as diners filed into the dining room. "Donations are down because of the economy."

The Empty Bowls proceeds will help PACE to buy foods in bulk, as well as fill gas tanks for the meal delivery vans.

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