Wheels are flying and bowls are forming as New Richmond students prepare for the sixth annual New Richmond Empty Bowls on April 18.
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.
The local 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; about $11,000 was collected in 2011; and about $15,000 was raised in 2012.
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 18 at the Community Commons, 421 S. Green Ave., from 5 to 7 p.m.
Cheryl Emerson, director of Community Education and co-chairwoman of the Empty Bowls event, said moving the event to the Community Commons has really helped raise awareness of the local need.
"People are more aware of what we're doing and why we're doing it and the need," she said. "We really are making a difference and we're really grateful we can help these families."
Emerson said her goal year-after-year is to raise $10,000.
"This event is run by volunteers. All of the money that comes in goes directly to help local families," she said.
It's estimated that, for every dollar raised at the Empty Bowls event, $7 worth of food can be purchased for the food shelf and backpack program.
"That's a lot of food for a lot of families," Emerson 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 classes, the Art Club, all district fifth-graders, students at St. Mary's School and various community members are making bowls.
In addition to bowls, the district's fourth-graders are making glass pendants which will be sold as necklaces during the event.
As in previous years, middle school students are making bottle cap magnets, and T-shirts are available at Community Education for $10 and will also be sold the night of the event. A student-run bake sale will be available the night of the event.
Silent auction items are being collected from local artists and businesses. The list of donations isn't completed and event organizers are still accepting donations.
"We really appreciate the donations by our businesses," Emerson said. "That really helps us with our goal."
All of the soup, bread and water served at the event are donated by local businesses. Anything left over at the end of the night is donated to Grace Place, a shelter in Somerset.
"Nothing goes to waste," Emerson said.
Performances by local groups will take place throughout the event, Emerson said.
"We'll have a lot of entertainment and a lot of different entertainment this year," she said.
Emerson said she hopes to get some of the Community Ed classes to perform during the Empty Bowls event; however, none have been confirmed yet.
Duana Bremer, of the Salvation Army, will be on hand with information about the New Richmond Happy Kids Backpack Program, along with Shanta Mortimore, with Five Loaves, who will be giving tours of the food shelf.
Nineteen sponsors have signed on to assist the Empty Bowls event, Emerson said. More than $7,500 in sponsorship money has been raised so far, the most ever raised from sponsors.
The group is still looking for volunteers and donation items for the silent auction. Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to call Emerson at 715-243-7421.