NAPPANEE — Ellie Hathaway knew in a second how she would spend her Saturday.
The Goshen High School sophomore was asked by her art teacher if she’d like to participate in the Elkhart County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau mural rehab program at Nappanee during Second Saturdays.
After five years, the county’s quilt murals used to promote the Quit Gardens needed some spiffing up and organizers were looking for art students to help repaint the murals.
Hathaway, who also enjoys cross country, and 15 other area students jumped at the chance.
“It’s so neat to see these things in the community and be part of it and not just observing it,” Hathaway said while working on a mural that can be seen outside of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and happens to be along the practice course Hathaway uses for cross country.
“I can go, ‘Hey guys, look! I helped paint that,’” Hathaway said.
That’s exactly what Jeff Stillson was hoping to achieve.
Stillson, who originally painted all of the murals, helped organize the rehab project as part of Nappanee’s Second Saturday activities at the Coppes Commons Upper Room Saturday.
Students were provided with 50 gallons of different colored paints and they had to learn how to mix what was available to match the original colors used in the murals. Their work began at 8 a.m. and was expected to continue until late afternoon.
The murals are placed in various locations around the county, but are stored in the winter.
“A lot of these kids go through high school art and the only people who see the artwork are themselves and their family,” Stillson said. “This way, I can show them how you can actually make a living doing this type of thing. You can get your artwork in the community. It can be enjoyed by a lot of people and you can enjoy what you do.”
While students provided their talents for a county-wide cause, organizers in the room next door were benefiting the community with another artistic endeavor.
Pottery Bowls made by NorthWood High School students were part of the first ever Souper Bowl benefit for Family Christian Development Center.
For $15, visitors could get a bowl of soup and then take home the bowl. Three choices of soup — chili, chicken noodle and cheesy potato — were available, as were deserts, drinks and hot dogs.
Not knowing what to expect, organizers started the day with 200 bowls. One hour into the three hour event, they had about 50 bowls remaining.
“We may have to serve some soup in Styrofoam bowls, but that’s OK,” said Larry Andrews, marketing manager for Coppes who oversees Second Saturday activities at the historic Coppes Commons on Market Street.
The turnout was super enough that Andrews was confident the charitable effort will return next year.
“We have such a giving community,” he said. “People want to help each other.”
South of the dozens of tables set up for the Souper Bowl was an area reserved for kids to try their hand at painting miniature murals.
The event was free. Patterns and paint were provided and the top three entries from the day will receive cash prizes when winners are announced next month during the city’s annual Spring Into Art program.
Matt and Rachelle Himes, of Warsaw, were in town for other activities with their two children when 7-year-old daughter, Morgan, saw a sign promoting the children’s painting.
The program was a good change of pace.
“It was free and something to entertain them on a winter’s day,” Rachelle Himes said.