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New Richmond Empty Bowls deemed a success

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Hundreds of people flocked to Hillside Elementary Thursday to see the bowls on display for the fourth annual New Richmond Empty Bowls event.

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The idea behind Empty Bowls is to serve a simple meal -- usually of bread and soup or rice -- and for guests to leave with their bowls as a reminder that there are always empty bowls in the world.

The fundraiser was started by a school teacher in Michigan who wanted to help students raise funds to support a food drive.

More than 300 bowls, made by district fifth-graders, high school ceramics and art club students and St. Mary's middle school students, were available for sale for $10 and included a meal. Additional meals could be purchased for $3.

The numbers from the event have not been totaled yet, but Cheryl Emerson, director of Community Ed and co-chair of the Empty Bowls, said close to 600 people attended the event.

"Empty Bowls 2011 was a fantastic success," she said. "We are in awe of the overwhelming support from our community for those in need."

Buyers had to arrive early to get first pick of the bowls. A good number of bowls were sold within the first half hour of the event.

In addition to the bowls, a silent auction featuring donations from local businesses and professional artists, including Mark Lusardi and last year's artist in residence, Stephen Branfman, were available for bidding. The items available included lunch with area principals, a new Kindle, teeth whitening services and a large number of canned vegetables.

The more than 41 gallons of soup was donated by local businesses. Along with the soup, businesses and the high school FCE students donated bread. All leftover food was donated to Grace Place, a transitional housing shelter in Somerset.

All proceeds from the event were used to help end hunger locally and benefitted Five Loaves Food Shelf and the New Richmond Happy Kids Backpack program. Each dollar raised can buy about $7 worth of food.

All the clay -- roughly 800 to 1,000 pounds -- was donated by Continental Clay Co., a Minneapolis-based company.

The New Richmond event started in fall 2007 before being switched to the spring in 2009. Each year the event gains in popularity, Emerson said. The first year about $8,200 was raised; in 2009, $10,750; and more than $11,000 was collected in 2010.

"There was so much positive energy surrounding this event, so many wonderful supporters, volunteers and sponsors ... this event wouldn't have been a success without them," Emerson said.

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Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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