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Seventh annual Empty Bowls event draws large crowd

About 800 people showed up to select their bowls, necklaces and other handcrafted items in the Community Commons gym during this year’s Empty Bowls event, which took place on Thursday, April 10. (Photos by Jordan Willi)1 / 4
The Middle School Ensemble Singers, directed by Katelyn Peterson (on piano) performed for a large crowd during the Empty Bowls event held at the Community Commons on Thursday, April 10. The 18-member group performed a variety of songs in the gym at the Community Commons. (Photo by Jordan Will)2 / 4
A group of student volunteers help dish out soup and bread to hungry community members who came to the Empty Bowls event held at the Community Commons on Thursday, April 10.3 / 4
A large crowd made its way around the Community Commons gymnasium to look at a selection of necklaces, bowls, silent auction items and other handmade goods made by community members and students from New Richmond elementary schools.4 / 4

A crowd of close to 800 people passed through the Community Commons and consumed approximately 50 gallons of soup during the seventh annual Empty Bowls event, which was held at the Commons on Thursday, April 10.

“Everyone was really excited to see so many people turn out for the event this year,” said Cheryl Emerson, director of Community Education for the New Richmond School District. “There was a great showing of community support, and I think people liked seeing that. A lot of people were overwhelmed and surprised by the amount of support we got for this year’s event.”

From its start back in 2007, Empty Bowls has brought in more and more funds every year. Over the last six years, not including the 2014 event, the New Richmond Empty Bowls Event has raised more than $72,780 to go toward the New Richmond School District Backpack Program and the Five Loaves Food and Clothing Center. This year’s totals were not available by the time the paper went to press.

“Ten dollars here and there can really make a difference for a cause like this,” Emerson said. “We can buy $7 of food with just a $1 donation. Empty Bowls is a great tool for hunger awareness for those who do not think it is a big deal in our community. It is a great example of the way our community can come together for one night and do something good for others while also giving everyone a feeling of being a community.”

This year, there were between 500 and 600 bowls made for the Empty Bowls event, including bowls made during a bowl making event earlier this year. Fifth-graders from all three New Richmond elementary schools, New Richmond High School students from the ceramics class, New Richmond Middle School students and community members and New Richmond school staff also contributed bowls. Another 200 handmade fused glass pendants were made for the event and were created by Hillside Elementary fourthgraders, high school helpers, teachers, Key Club members, and the New Richmond High School girls’ soccer team.

“We usually don’t sell out and we didn’t this year either, but we will keep selling them throughout the year,” Emerson said. “People have been coming in the last couple of days and been picking up a bowl since they weren’t able to be at the event. We will also have people coming in to purchase bowls through the year for different events and such. We’ll sell them at the park art fair this year.”

Aside from the bowls, the event featured performances by the Middle School Ensemble Singers and Dance Explosion, the Penny Drive Check presentation and the Ready Set Go Singers.

“A lot of energy and time go into making this event a success,” Emerson said. “The community really gets involved and makes a difference. We are lucky to be able to have the event at the Community Commons since it allows us the time to set things up in advance and feel comfortable with what we are doing.”

Soup donations for this year’s event came from Ready Randy’s, Table 65, Champs, Douville Bakery, Subway, Not Justa Cafe, Pete’s Pizza and the New Richmond Food Service. Bread for the event was donated by Douville Bakery, JET’s, Family Fresh and Breaktime Cafe & Coffee. Water and ice was donated by Bernick’s and Freedom Valu Center. All the leftover soup and bread went to Grace Place. Continental Clay matched the clay the New Richmond School District purchased with an equal donation so that all money raised could go directly to Five Loaves Food & Clothing Center and Happy Kids BackPack Program.

“People in New Richmond are extremely generous,” Emerson said. “I think people understand how important this cause and what our needs are after seven years of doing this event.”

A date for next year’s event has yet to be set, but Emerson and the Community Education office is already in the process of putting things together for the eighth annual Empty Bowls event.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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