Pottery bowls line a table in the hostess area of the Deadwood Social Club. All the handmade bowls vary in shapes and sizes and textures and colors. The soft warm glow of the lights illuminate a long table in the next room, stocked with giant pots of hearty, delicious smelling soups. Hungry people enter the room and grab one of the many pottery bowls then move on to the soup line to get their gourmet soup of choice.
The Empty Bowls event raised money for the local food banks to help the hungry in the area. Local artists create pottery bowls that are sold for $10 at the event. Attendees go through the soup line like you would a mission and receive their soup and bread. Afterwards, they get to keep the bowl.
The money raised was divided between Lord’s Cupboard in Lead-Deadwood and the Spearfish Food Pantry.
“Every year when we turn in the money to the food banks, the money is used to make sure that these families will get a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and more. It makes me very happy to know that this community gives to such a worthy cause,” said Elise Rawlings, one of the event organizers.
The community came out in large numbers this year, raising just under $3000 in one night. This was a higher turnout than in the previous years. Many people came back for seconds and thirds of soup. Empty Bowls is significant in the community for multiple reasons. It hit a few people, like Elise, a little closer to home.
“This event is very personal to me, because I was one of those families that could not afford a Thanksgiving dinner for my kids. I had to use the food bank a few times when my kids were young, I don’t know what I would have done without it. I had no family around to help me and had to make tough choices about what to spend what little money I had on,” said Elise.
Both Elise and her husband and Black Hills State University photography professor Jerry Rawlings worked all year to make Empty Bowls a success for this very reason. They collected bowls from artists around the community. Both Spearfish High School students and the BHSU art department donated bowls. BHSU’s photography club Shutterbuzz also donated works of art for a silent auction. Half of those proceeds went to the charities.
“a��being able to help by donating images for the silent auction that Shutterbuzz has is one of my favorite [memories]. Seeing the people with your image is a feeling that I will never forget,” said Shutterbuzz president Virginia Spotswood.
The BHSU’s photo club raised just over a thousand dollars this year for Empty Bowls.
“I like to refer to Empty Bowls as a larger-than-life living, breathing work-of-art,” said Jerry.
Elise ended the night with some final thoughts about why the event is so important to those in need.
“No one knows how that feels unless you have experienced it. It is humiliating and humbling. I was treated with respect and given more than just a turkey, I was given hope,” said Elise.