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Raising money and awarness

Students from Catholic schools in Lexington proved that filling empty bowls can do a lot to fill the hearts of needy folks.

Students made and decorated dozens of ceramic bowls and created other art works to help raise $2,000 for the Lexington Catholic Action Center's project to find apartments for homeless people.

"The kids have been wonderful. "They've all worked so hard," said Stephen Dorsett, an art teacher at Lexington Catholic who helped to coordinate the "Filling Empty Bowls" event."

After several weeks of work, the students threw a bash Feb. 19 at Lexington Catholic High School. For $10, visitors could get a meal prepared by the students and receive one of the bowls to take home. Other student-made bowls and some decorated by homeless residents were sold in a silent auction.

The students did a little bit of everything to help make the event work. They collected food donations, which members of the Lexington Catholic Culinary Club then turned into big, steaming pots of soup to be served to guests. Food not used at the fund-raiser was given to God's Pantry and the Catholic Action Center.

Students from Lexington Catholic, Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Christ the King schools all took part in the event, preparing food, making bowls or creating art.

Joe Shuman and Ellis Boatley, who both found homes through the Catholic Action Center's efforts, worked with students to decorate some of the bowls.

"The best part of it all was just meeting these kids and getting to know them," Shuman said. Said Boatley, "They're a bunch of friendly kids."

Shuman graduated from Lexington Catholic in the late 1970s, but then he fell on hard times. He said he used to "sleep over by the railroad tracks" before the Catholic Action Center helped him find an apartment. More than 60 people have found apartments in Nicholasville and Lexington through the program.

Jennifer Waller, a parent who helped the students put on the event, said spending time with the formerly homeless residents gave the youngsters a personal awareness of what it's like to not have a home.

"The residents and their stories of hope have left the students with a great desire to work toward a homeless and hunger-free Lexington," she said. "The real blessing is the friendships they will now share with one another."