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Empty Bowls: Raising awareness of hunger

Dickinson's Days Hotel Grand Dakota Lodge is hosting its third annual Empty Bowls event on Saturday. The doors open at 11:30 a.m. in the mezzanine of the hotel.

The event is an effort to raise an awareness of hunger in the community, said Marilyn Sahlstrom, the hotel's administrative assistant.

"Purchase a bowl, a bit of soup and a bite of bread," she said. "By doing this, you are helping to raise money to give to people in the community who are hungry."

Empty Bowls is a nationally recognized fundraiser to raise awareness of hunger. It allows participating artists to donate bowls, then serve a simple meal.

The event was initiated in Dickinson by Days Hotel, in partnership with the Dickinson State University art department. Robin Reynolds, DSU ceramics adjunct instructor, assigned her students to make and donate one or more bowls to the event. The bowls are made by a variety of methods, clays and glazes.

"Some of the bowls are not exactly designed for soup, but you can use a Styrofoam bowl," she said.

Additional bowls for corporate sponsors are being made by artisans Tod Winters, Robin Reynolds and Mary Lovell.

The Benedictine sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery at Richardton are donating the bread and the Days Hotel is donating the soup, said Sahlstrom.

"Last year, we served 200. It's first-come, first-served," she said. "You get to keep the bowl -- it's a great time to buy stocking suffers as gifts for friends."

The Empty Bowls event coincides with other activities going on the same day at the hotel.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to come, because we have the Badlands Art Association art show and Domestic Violence has its prom and party show -- so there's lots happening at the Days Hotel," she said.

A donation of $15 is asked for a bowl. Last year, the event raised $3,174 that was distributed locally by United Way of Dickinson.

"It's not mixed in with the regular United Way campaign -- it's above and beyond," said Jill Gregoire, United Way executive director.

Last year, a portion of the proceeds was donated to the Welcome Table soup kitchen. This year, a portion will be donated to the AMEN Food Pantry, she said.

Many of United Way's agencies also provide food services to their clients, she said.

Past recipients include Community Action's Prairie Rose Center, the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center, West Dakota Parent and Family Resource Center (for dinners), Harvest Home and Elder Care.

"It's only for food -- to buy healthy, nutritious food," said Gregoire.

Gregoire is looking forward to the event.

"United Way is happy to be part of the event. It's for such a good cause. It's one of those feel-good events," she said.