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Empty Bowls painting events planned at Cobbygoose

News Photo by Darby Hinkley From left to right, Chrissy Schroeder, Patti Prittie, Charlie Prittie and Carter Schroeder paint bowls on Nov. 22 at Cobbygoose inside the Alpena Mall. Alpena Senior Citizens Center is partnering with Cobbygoose for more bowl-painting sessions Dec. 18 and Jan. 23.

ALPENA ­– They all look the same plain white to start, but these bowls turn into works of art after participants coat and color them for a good cause.

The Empty Bowls event is set for Feb. 16, but organizers have started painting bowls, and they need the community’s help. The first painting session was held on Nov. 22, and two more events are planned for 6 p.m. on Dec. 18 and Jan. 23 at Cobbygoose.

This year, the Alpena Senior Citizens Center is partnering with Cobbygoose inside the Alpena Mall to provide bowl-painting sessions for $10 per person. You paint a bowl, then turn it in to be fired in a kiln to produce a shiny glaze.

Then from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 16, the Empty Bowls fundraiser will be held at the Senior Center. Those who attend the February event can purchase one of the colorful, uniquely decorated bowls, eat soup from it, and take it home to remind them to have compassion on those who are hungry all year long.

“We’re going to be partnering up with local restaurants to make the soup for us, provide the soup for us on that day, and breads and a dessert,” said Senior Center Director Annie Hepburn. “So, we’re asking for a minimum $5 donation for each person that comes through the door on that day, but they can give any donation… above that.”

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Senior Center Program Manager BJ Sander and Director Annie Hepburn paint bowls at last month’s event. Below left is one of the painted bowls prior to firing in the kiln to produce a shiny glaze.

All the money raised will support area agencies that help provide food to those in need, such as soup kitchens and food pantries.

In order to have a successful event, they need as many painted bowls as they can get. On Nov. 22, Hepburn and Senior Center Program Manager BJ Sander selected their colors and wielded their brushes to paint a few bowls together, and they plan to come back for more.

“We do it every year with my son, and my nieces and nephews,” Hepburn said, noting that it is fun for children and adults alike.

This is the third annual Empty Bowls event, Hepburn said, but the first time the Senior Center has taken the reins. In prior years, it was put on by St. Bernard’s Friendship Room and Cobbygoose. Hepburn and Sander were happy to take over the project.

“BJ and I have always gone and painted the bowls,” Hepburn said. “And I’ve always attended the event. It’s just neat to see the community pull together for those in need, and support them.”

“The really cool thing to me is the purpose of why you want to take that bowl home,” Sander said. “So, what that is supposed to represent to people, when they take that bowl home, every time they look at that bowl, they should think that someone is sitting at a kitchen table with an empty bowl, with nothing to put in it.”

They plan on doing a silent auction of bowl-themed art pieces at the Empty Bowls event.

“We will be reaching out to different artists as well,” Hepburn said.

There were about 190 bowls made last year, Hepburn said. They hope to match that level of participation this year.

Cobbygoose is located at Alpena Mall, 2270-2280 U.S.-23 S.

For more information, or to inquire about scheduling a different time to paint bowls, call Cobbygoose owner Ashley Borchard at 989-354-4222.

Normal store hours are 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Cobbygoose is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Hepburn said some people try to buy their own bowls back at the event, but that’s not necessarily guaranteed.

“Some people want the bowl that they painted, and that’s not always do-able,” Hepburn said with a laugh. “So if somebody beats you to your bowl, you have to pick a different one.”

She said there are always so many beautiful bowls to choose from, and they all look so professional after they’ve been glazed.

“I’ve always been pleasantly surprised with how they look when we go to pick them up,” Sander said.

Any restaurant interested in participating in the February event is invited to call Sander at 989-356-3585.