TOMS RIVER – The JBJ Soul Kitchen, known for feeding those in need through volunteering and donations, is bringing the community together for an “Every Bowl Feeds a Soul” event on Saturday, September 30 at its Toms River location in the B.E.A.T. Center on Hooper Ave.
The Empty Bowls Pottery Sale will feature hundreds of handmade bowls made by local students, artists or volunteers that can be purchased for a $20 donation. Proceeds will go back into the Soul Kitchen and onto the plates of diners in the form of healthy, delicious meals, as well as toward the work of the Art Alliance of Monmouth County, which is coordinating the event.
Mil Wexler-Kobrinski is a ceramic artist and painter, and board member with the Art Alliance of Monmouth County. She is responsible for bringing the Empty Bowls event to the Soul Kitchen, where it has proven to be extremely successful so far at JBJ’s Red Bank location.
Wexler-Kobrinski dedicated her MFA thesis project to Empty Bowls, a project of Imagine/RENDER, a nonprofit organization that aims to raise money and awareness in the fight to end hunger.
NJ State Teen Arts Coordinator Harrison Haney brought Wexler-Kobrinski to the Teen Arts Festival at Ocean County College this spring, where her workshops were so popular with the students there that some of them spent the entire day making bowls. Creation of the bowls requires the effort of many people, and students at these Teen Arts workshops offered some of the most productive hands.
“It’s a great workshop, a hands-on opportunity for students to learn bowl making,” said Haney. “Mil makes sure the kids know this bowl is going to be in someone’s hands and it’s going to a good cause.”
“We are thrilled that Empty Bowls is coming to the JBJ Soul Kitchen in Toms River, and so thankful to Mil Wexler,” says Carol Trub of the Soul Kitchen. “Our support staff volunteers helped Mil guide high school students to create the bowls last spring, and we will now see the project come full circle. It is a true community effort. Each bowl is more beautiful than the next, and all for a great cause.”
Gina Navon of the Art Alliance coordinates the volunteers in the project and said that the Empty Bowls project is about community helping community. “We come together from the Art Alliance, from Soul Kitchen, from Monmouth Arts, we invite our friends to join us, we bring our daughters, sons, significant others. We have fun, but we work hard – especially Mil, who is the driving force here – and in the process we are all humbled by our good fortune, and present this reminder to the world that there are still many among us who struggle for this simple basic human need: food.”
The JBJ Soul Kitchen was founded by Dorothea and Jon Bon Jovi and is a community restaurant featuring fresh, healthy ingredients. It serves meals to in-need customers through volunteer work, and to paying customers through donation.
For more information about the Art Alliance of Monmouth County, please visit artallianceofmonmouth.org; for the JBJ Soul Kitchen, visit jbjsoulkitchen.org; for the Monmouth Arts Festival visit monmoutharts.org and for the NJ State Teen Arts Festival visit njteenarts.org.