Annual fundraiser provides for those in need in the community

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One event that has brought the community together involves a simple dinner of soup and an empty bowl.

For one evening people in the Tri-Lakes area will gather together for a meal but when they leave they will have an empty bowl that will serve as a reminder of those in the community that can't always put a meal on the table for their families because they simply can't afford to.

Empty Bowl dinners are fundraisers that take place all over the country during World Hunger Week and this year's Empty Bowl will take place Oct. 10 at Lewis-Palmer High School. The event was started in 1990 and two years later the Tri-Lakes community was hosting its own. Two-hundred bowls of soup were served that first year and 20 years later nearly 1,000 are dished out.

Every penny that comes in from Empty Bowl goes to Tri-Lakes Cares. There are no overhead costs because everything is donated. The school district offers the use of the high school, vats of soup are donated from local restaurants, local grocery stores provide the bread and area churches provide the desserts.

“Everybody wants to donate. It's a very good community event,” local potter Anne Shimek said.

Shimek, along with Linda Pankratz, organized the first Empty Bowl. The Monument Hill Kiwanis Club sponsors the event now but Shimek, a nationally recognized potter, still donates bowls. Many local artists and even high school students make bowls to donate.

For $20 attendees get to pick out a bowl to take home and then have a meal of soup, bread and dessert. There is also a silent auction that night.

“We definitely want the community to come out in droves to support this event,” Haley Chapin, executive director of Tri-Lakes Cares, said. “It gives them the opportunity to have a nice dinner and get more information about feeding those in our community that are hungry, participate in the silent auction, hear some music and get a nice pottery bowl to bring home and start a collection with.”

Chapin said that the Empty Bowl dinner really is a benefit to Tri-Lakes Cares. TLC is $49,000 over budget in client services. They are experiencing a 42 percent increase in client services over the past four years. In July TLC hit an all-time record with 31 new households joining as clients. They also set another record that month in packing 86 packages of emergency groceries. In July of 2009 TLC packed 69 emergency groceries. In Aug. they hit a record of 866 service visits in one month. Service visits can be financial, counseling, medical or food.

“We have a lot of people in this community that need help,” Shimek said.

Empty Bowl will take place from 5-7:30 p.m. Oct 10 at Lewis-Palmer High School. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Hi Country Home Brew, Rosie's Diner, Tri-Lakes Printing, Rock House Ice Cream and More, Hangars and Seranos. Children under 12 are free with a purchased ticket.

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