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Maple offers night of soup and swing

Swing into fun and philanthropy with back-to-back artistic events Monday in Maple. The fourth annual Empty Bowls fundraiser kicks off at 5 p.m. at Northwestern High School, followed by the Coffee House Jazz Concert at 7:30 p.m. in the school’s Patricia Luostari Theatre for the Performing Arts.

"I’m excited because I believe that we will make it easier for those who have attended both events in the past as well as attract new people to each event," said Northwestern High School Band Director Michael Hintzman.

Over the last three years, Empty Bowls has served nearly 400 bowls of soup and raised more than $5,000 for the Rural Care & Share Food Shelf, which provides monthly food distribution to families within the School District of Maple. Each dollar donated at the event can purchase up to $10 worth of food for hungry neighbors.

"That translates into $50,000 worth of food purchased for our community," said event founder Amy Mack, an art teacher at Northwestern Elementary School.

She began Empty Bowls four years ago because she saw too many young people in need.

"My goal was to start a movement of taking care of our neighbors and to energize the student body," Mack said. "When people, both young and old, feel empowered to be a part of the solution, we can accomplish anything."

Empty Bowls offers a single bowl of soup for a freewill donation. Although they may leave hungry, participants won’t leave empty handed. Each will receive a piece of artwork to bring home. This year’s items were made by high school students, local artists and members of the church community that makes up Rural Care & Share Food Shelf.

"On a daily basis we hear about tragedy all over the world and we are asked to help," Mack said. "This event offers us all a chance to help people we know in a profoundly personal way. My hope is that the students can see that a small donation of time, skills or cash can make a notable impact in the community and on themselves."

Those who come for the soup are invited to stay for some jazz. The 20th annual Coffee House Jazz Concert features big band swing music in the style of Glenn Miller and Count Basie as well as several vocal soloists and small group acts. The concert closes with a recent arrangement of "Humanism," written by Jon Batiste, which audience members may know as the theme song for "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

Tickets for the jazz concert are $4 for adults, $2 for students, with a $1 discount for anyone who attended Empty Bowls.

"This is a great way to be a part of the solution," Mack said. "Let’s help to empower our kids and ourselves by engaging in our community through this joyful event."