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Fourth grade student Sam Peterson had fun joking around with Jefferson High School seniors like Blake Stockert while making mugs for the event on March 25. (Annie Harman/Echo Press)

Serving up help for the hungry

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In 2010 the Jefferson High School (JHS) seniors in Kelly Hilbrands’ senior social II class began a project to help fight hunger in Douglas County. Now, four years later, the current JHS seniors taking the same class offered by Hilbrands will be putting on the fourth Empty Bowls Project event.

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The Empty Bowls project raises money to help the people in Douglas County living in poverty, specifically the ones who can’t afford to eat three meals a day. This year the event will take place on Tuesday, March 25, at Jefferson High School and their fundraising goal is $7,000.

“They’ve been close to reaching the goal in the past,” said senior Amanda Bigger.

“But we raised it this year,” Bigger’s classmate Hailey Thelen chimed in.

Three sections of Hilbrands’ senior social II class are responsible for putting together this event. All of the students in those classes are in 12th grade. They have been working non-stop handing out flyers to businesses and churches, ordering T-shirts, reaching out to elementary students to educate them on the homeless and hungry, and reaching out to every area newspaper and radio station in Douglas County.

One of the classes visited Lincoln Elementary School to talk about the project with Therese Serum’s 4th grade class. After telling the kids that there are other children in the area who don’t always get to eat three meals a day and who go to bed hungry, the two groups sat down and decorated mugs to be sold at the event.

One of the 4th graders, Sam Peterson, had a lot of fun talking to the high school boys while decorating his mug. Even though he really enjoyed the time with the older students, he understood that what they were doing was for a good cause.

“We can afford food and they can’t,” Peterson said. “It’s just sort of weird to think about.”

Although he said the thought made him sad, Peterson was happy to help people who don’t have food to put in their bowls.

The weeks of hard work are soon to pay off as March 25 creeps closer.

“We’ll probably be more energetic when the night comes,” Bigger said. “When we can see the results that we’ve worked so hard for.”

Currently, the students have been able to raise $3,000 from Bell State Bank’s Pay-It-Forward employee program.

“We’re just waiting to see if people from the community will actually come,” said Thelen. “And to see if we will meet or exceed our goal.”

The night will include entertainment, a silent auction, and soup that will be served in handcrafted bowls that you can keep. All of the proceeds will go to the Douglas County Food Shelf, the Jefferson High School Food Shelf, and the District 206 programs, Meals that Care and the BackPack Program. The silent auction and food will begin at 5 p.m. with live entertainment to follow. The night will finish up around 7 p.m.

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Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
(320) 763-1233
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