Bowls for Hope marks 10th year of raising funds for local charities

Posted March 13, 2019

The 10th annual Bowls for Hope once again brought together the UW-River Falls campus and the River Falls community to raise money for a local charity.

The event, which took place March 5 in the University Center, this year raised funds for the River Falls Sunshine Fund, a River Falls High School student-led non-profit. During the event, local chefs offer participants various soups served in bowls made by UWRF art students, local potters, and elementary and high school pupils.

“Bowls for Hope initially started during the inauguration of Chancellor Van Galen (in 2010), as part of a decision to purposefully combine the community and the university in a meaningful way,” said Mary Van Galen, associate of the chancellor and the event’s planner. The idea behind Bowls for Hope started around the time Van Galen went to an event that utilized bowls. She thought it was “unique and fun” and consulted local potter and UWRF alumnus Doug Johnson about the university creating an event centered around bowls.

“I looked at what are the strengths of the community and it seemed that the community was very much an art-based community and we had a lot of potters in western Wisconsin,” Van Galen said.

Van Galen expected a variety of community members to attend the event, including those enrolled in the River Falls schools, UWRF alumni, and local residents. Creating the event takes anywhere from 250 to 300 staff members and volunteers while Van Galen expected participants to number around 250 to 400 individuals.

Stressing the importance of unity across different areas of the community, Van Galen said, “It does bring so many people together and it’s just fun to watch people be out for a couple hours, enjoy each other’s company and taste some soups.”

The event featured awards such as a Chef’s Choice Award and the People’s Choice Award, both won by Paul Howie of the Copper Kettle restaurant in River Falls.

“The true magic of the night is when community members who frequently don’t get on campus and talk to our students and interact and learn more about the recipient charity and just have a good time,” Van Galen said.

During last year’s event, $6,500 was raised for the Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley.

River Falls Sunshine Fund Treasurer Melissa Godden said, “Our goal is to beat that number and raise as much as we can, so we can give it back.”

Riley Jahnke, a member of the fund and River Falls High School student, agreed.

“Our goal is to raise funds for those in the community bearing life’s adversities,” Jahnke said. “Part of our goal is we want to give back equally, so all of this money won’t be for one thing, we will split it up.”

Mowing lawns, shoveling driveways, and purchasing food and gas cards are ways the River Falls Sunshine Fund hopes to help the community with the money raised. The fund looks to help out those with a death or illness in the family or those who are unemployed.

“Families that we are helping live in the community, they go to school here and eventually may go to the university, so we are helping across the board with all families,” Godden said.