Joann Winkler – As a teacher of students who were at risk of dropping out at Liberty Elementary School, Joann sought a project that would connect her 5th grade students with needs in the community. Hearing about Empty Bowls, a national effort to raise awareness about hunger, she found her project! Begun in 2000, Charlotte County Empty Bowls has had a major impact in raising awareness about local hunger and homelessness and providing for the needs of those children affected. The first year, forty students created clay bowls in their art classes; a simple lunch of soup was served by the students, and they raised $250. Joann has seen the effort grow through the years to include students from all Charlotte County schools, partnerships with many local restaurants who provide soup for the annual event, the Arts & Humanities Council for "clay" funding, and the Visual Arts Center which hosts free bowl making events for the community.
It is still a student centered program empowering children to do for others and make a difference in someone's life. Thanks to Joann, thousands of children have been provided for over the years, and students all over Charlotte County have learned the satisfaction of leading and giving back to their community.