Creating a way
Nursing student uses ceramics talent to raise money for kids to go to summer camp
By Jalesa Cooley, firstname.lastname@example.org
When Shannon Eichorst enrolled in her first ceramics class during her freshman year at James Madison High School, she knew she had found her lifetime passion. A rising junior, crafting ceramics gives the nursing student a creative outlet she can get lost in, and also provides her way to help support another passion – helping young people grow spiritually through the Young Life program. As a mentor for students from Ridge View High School, Eichorst has contributed designs to be used as a thank-you for program donors, and sold her creations to provide funding for students to attend camp.
“We had a really awesome ceramics program at my high school, with a really great teacher,” says Eichorst. “I didn’t realize I had a knack for it until my senior year, and by then I realized that I could do this forever.”
Young Life, a relational ministry that pairs high school students with adult mentors, strives to make a difference in the lives of those involved by forming beneficial relationships. Throughout the year, Young Life leaders host weekly bible study sessions that allow students to connect and build friendships. Once summer comes, leaders focus on taking students to a weeklong camp in North Carolina.
“For most of my high school friends, camp is their first time away from the world and all the pain in it,” says Eichorst. “They don’t have their phones and are completely out of their element. They hike up mountains, ride horses, and go down zip lines all in order to break down thick walls of fear. Camp is the most magical place on Earth. It allows kids to be kids while experiencing the truth of the gospel for the first time.”
Soon after Eichorst became a Young Life leader, she realized that some of her students couldn’t attend camp because of the cost. Subsequently, she started working on fundraising ideas to help her students. By the end of her freshman year, Eichorst had sold a few pieces of her pottery and raised a couple hundred dollars to put towards summer camp fees.
“All of my ceramics are sold to send kids to Young Life camp,” says Eichorst. “This year I’ve made almost $3,000, which is super crazy. I never would have imagined that happening.”
The success of Eichorst’s ceramics prompted the Young Life team to ask her to craft mugs for prestigious donors as a thank-you for their contributions. Already enrolled in the summer session of Ceramics 420: Advanced Ceramics, Eichorst started in on her project with support from the head of the ceramics department, Virginia Scotchie, one of her biggest supporters. With access to reclaimed clay from previous semesters, Eichorst hand-crafted 100 mugs using recycled material.
“It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” says Eichorst. “I’ve made a lot of pottery, but I’ve never made 100 of one thing. About halfway through, I did not know if I was going to be able to do it.”
The powerful design of the mugs exemplifies the character of their creator and carries a powerful message. On the handle, a strategically placed mustard seed. On the outer surface, mountains are shown. These details serve as a representation of one of Eichorst’s favorite verses, Matthew 17:20, “Faith, like a mustard seed, can move mountains.”
“It’s really cool that I finished this project and now I get to go to camp with the girls I raised money for,” says Eichorst. “Being a Young Life leader never feels like work, it’s a real friendship that lasts a lifetime. I love my high school friends and they love me back, and that will never change.”
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