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Fifth-grader Coral Gronquist, a student in Liz Erickson's class at Hillside Elementary, works to add a handle to the bowl she crafted for the annual New Richmond Empty Bowls event.1 / 2
Joe Goodman, a fifth-grader in Liz Erickson's class at Hillside, adds details to his hand-crafted ceramic bowl.2 / 2

Wheels are flying and bowls are forming as New Richmond students prepare for New Richmond Empty Bowls on April 26.

Empty Bowls is a national campaign designed to help end hunger locally.

In New Richmond, the event helps raise money for Five Loaves Food Shelf and the New Richmond Happy Kids Backpack program.

This is the fifth annual Empty Bowls event, but the first at the New Richmond Community Commons. The event started in the fall of 2007 before being switched to the spring in 2009. Each year the event gains in popularity. The first year about $8,200 was raised; in 2009, $10,750; in 2010, more than $11,000 and about $11,000 was collected in 2011.

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 his students raise funds to support a food drive.

New Richmond's Empty Bowls event is scheduled for April 26 at the Community Commons, 421 S. Green Ave., from 5 to 7 p.m.

Cheryl Emerson, director of Community Education and co-chairwoman of Empty Bowls, said the event was moved to the Community Commons for a number of reasons.

"With the food shelf being here, we're able to give tours the night of the event and it also allows us to set up a little bit earlier," she said.

Bowls will be available to the public for $10 each. Bowl sales include a meal of soup and bread. Additional meals are available for $3 each.

High school ceramics, the art club, all district fifth-graders, students at St. Mary's School and various community members are making bowls.

In addition to bowls, T-shirts are available at all the schools, the district office and Community Education for $10 and will also be sold the night of the event. Temporary tattoos are also available for 25 cents.

Silent auction items are being donated by local artists and businesses. The list of donations isn't completed and event organizers are still accepting donations.

Nineteen sponsors have signed on to assist the Empty bowls event, Emerson said. More than $6,500 in sponsor money has been raised so far, the most ever raised from sponsorships, she said.

Performances by Dance Explosion and other local groups will take place throughout the event, Emerson said.

Duana Bremer will be on hand with information about the New Richmond Happy Kids Backpack Program, along with Shanta Mortimore, with Five Loaves Food Shelf, who will be giving tours of the food shelf.

Mark Lusardi, a local potter, will also be giving tours of Community Education's new pottery studio, The Pottery Place.

"Everything is progressing nicely," Emerson said. "We're very excited to roll it out at Community Commons."

The group is still looking for volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to call Emerson at 715-243-7421.

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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