UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
April 1, 2011—Call it literal chicken soup for the soul. Students, faculty, staff and area community members gathered at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on March 22 for the annual Bowls For Hope event. The event, in which participants donate money and then receive a handcrafted bowl and enjoy soup and entertainment, raised $4,715 for the Kinnickinnic Backpack program.
The program fills backpacks on the weekends during the school year with a complete nonperishable meal for four for more than 50 school-age children in need in the community. "I can't say enough. It just goes to show the commitment to our kids, and just the caring nature of the community of River Falls and the university," says Romaine Hanson, the program's director. "Without these types of donations, the program wouldn't exist. It's not funded federally, and it doesn't get any money from the state. Everything that we do is strictly by volunteer and by help of donations." Funds donated at Bowls For Hope will be used by the program so families can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables. "It's really nice to have fresh food. That way you eliminate the additives, extra sugar and sodium added to canned food. It raises the nutritive value greatly," says Hanson.
A committee of six members of the university and River Falls communities helped put the event together, joined by numerous volunteers, including the Chancellor's Student Ambassadors. "It was really heart warming. The atmosphere was high energy, and both young and old were gathered to support the cause," says Mary Van Galen. Van Galen says that next year's event will include the option of a children's ticket, in which young participants will select a bowl made by other children. Gift certificates will also be available near the holidays for those who wish to purchase a ticket as a gift.
Savory soup was provided by Bo's-N-Mine, Coach's Bar & Grill, Copper Kettle, Dish & The Spoon Café, Earth Angels, Grateful Bread, Junior's Bar & Grill, Perkins Family Restaurant, Sodexo Dining Services, South Fork Café, West Wind Supper Club and the Whole Earth Co-op.
As participants dined, the Stolen Moments Jazz Quartet and the River Falls High School Choral Department performed. Artists, educators and students created the bowls for the event. Contributors included Doug Johnson, Ingrid Bjerstedt-Rogers, Bob Fritz, S.C. Rolf, Diane Webster, Bob Brodersen, Wendy Olson, Jay Jensen, Kurt Wild, Jennifer King, Mark Tomlinson, Dan Nitzler, Scott Zeinert, Randy Johnston's class at UW-River Falls, Anne Buchholz's class at The Renaissance Academy, Gina Pedriana-Basche's class at River Falls High School, Beth Kenseth's class at Meyer Middle School and the Greenwood Teacher's Pottery Class by Robin Kelley.
"The campus and community are interconnected in many ways, and the Bowls For Hope event exemplifies that connection," says UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen. "Thanks to the collaboration of artists, local restaurants, the event planning committee, volunteers, and participants, it was a great evening that will impact many young people through the Kinnickinnic Backpack Program."