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Empty bowls, full stomachs: Eighth annual Empty Bowls raises money to fight hunger

Attendees at Empty Bowls could purchase a bowl for $10, then help themselves to the chili at the event. There was also a silent auction. Proceeds from both go toward fighting hunger. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)1 / 2
High school students in pottery courses typically make the bowls sold at Empty Bowls. This year, students from Garfield Elementary School also made some of them. Each bowl contains a thank you note. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press) 2 / 2

The bowls were made by hand, but many hands contributed in other ways during the annual Empty Bowls Project on Monday, March 12, at Alexandria Area High School.

The event serves as a way to bring attention to hunger in the community.

Attendees are able to purchase a bowl and meal for $10, as well as bid on silent auction items. Proceeds from the event go to local entities such as school food shelves, the Outreach Food Shelf, United Way's Backpack Attack program and Alexandria Public Schools Food & Nutrition Services' Meals with Care program.

Students from Kelly Hilbrands' Civic Engagement and Impact course at the high school organize the event.

"I think the most fun part of putting this together is being able to work with students that you wouldn't typically work with on a day-to-day basis," said junior Patina Frovarp. "It's just being able to be successful with that and using your strengths and weaknesses to put one big thing together."

In the planning process, students are broken up into groups to organize different aspects of the event.

"I was part of the silent auction part, so I went out in the community and asked people for donations," said junior Kyra Sorensen. "It was interesting to see who would donate and what they'd donate. It was a cool experience."

Students in the course work together on one big project — in this case, Empty Bowls — but also on small-group impact projects. For one of the impact projects, a group is planning to start a food shelf at one of the elementary schools in the Alexandria district and is hoping some of the event's proceeds can go toward that effort.

Students in pottery classes at the high school, Garfield Elementary School studentsm and students at Runestone Regional Learning Center made the bowls that were for sale at the event.

Since the event began in 2011, more than $32,100 has been raised — not including what was raised Monday.

"We just appreciate the donations and the contributions that the community has always supported the Empty Bowls Project with," Hilbrands said. "That's a huge piece. Without the community's support, we wouldn't have this event."

As March marks Food Shelf Awareness month, donations will be accepted through Friday, March 23. Donations can be mailed to or dropped off at Alexandria Area High School. Checks should be made out to Empty Bowls Project-AAHS.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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