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BHSU students create bowls to raise money for local food banks

 Last month, the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser was held at the Deadwood Social Club raising $3,000 for local Spearfish and Lead/Deadwood food banks.
For years, Black Hills State University students and Jerry Rawlings, assistant professor of photography, have used their artistic skills to help raise money and awareness of the problem of hunger around the Northern Hills.

Last month, the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser was held at the Deadwood Social Club raising $3,000 for local Spearfish and Lead/Deadwood food banks.

Empty Bowls, created by The Imagine Render Group, is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger. The basic premise is simple: potters and other craftspeople, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. “This is larger than life, living, breathtaking, work of art,” Rawlings said.

The bowls for the event are made by BHSU students, Spearfish and Lead/Deadwood high school students, Clay Dykstra Pottery, Norby Pottery in Sundance, and many other community members and individuals who take it upon themselves to build the pottery.

“One of the things I love about this is that I have no idea how many artists are involved in this,” Rawlings said.

This year about 250 people attended. The BHSU ShutterBuzz Club held a silent auction during the event raising more than $1,000, which was split with the Empty Bowls organization.

This event gives high school and BHSU students a great opportunity to use their talents to help the community, Rawlings said.

The event has been such a success that Rawlings often struggles to get enough bowls made. This year, BHSU student Michelle Stampe, biology major from Spearfish, and her brother BHSU graduate Brian Stampe, and a group of middle school students from Spearfish saved the day by creating an additional 70 bowls. Brian, who is also a teaching assistant at BHSU, was asked to teach at a middle school art class a few days before the Empty Bowls fundraiser and taught the kids how to make pinch pots. Brian asked the kids if they wanted to donate them, and they were all excited to contribute their pots, Michelle said.

“Mr. Simon's middle school class saved the day, super cool kids,” Michelle said.

Michelle said her family attends this event every year, and it is always a success.

“Jerry did an awesome job, the food was way good as always and there were some crazy talented BHSU photographers who auctioned off their work, so much creativity and for such a great cause,” Michelle said.

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