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DUNKIRK – More than 1,000 bowls are waiting to be filled with hot soup and hope for a successful “Empty Bowls” fundraiser to benefit Friendly Kitchen.

Local potters have created the bowls and will spread them out on tables in Blessed Mary Angela Parish on Townsend Street, starting at 11 a.m. Dec. 7. The local group started this project many years ago on the campus of Fredonia State College. The event was introduced to the community in hopes of increasing proceeds for the local soup kitchen and raising awareness about hunger.

Marvin Bjurlin, a local potter and an organizer of the annual event, said a majority of the bowls are made at the Mudslinger’s Studio in Fredonia, owned by Ron Nasca, who has been using his kiln around the clock to prepare the bowls for the event.

“Without Ron’s devoted support, our Empty Bowls would not occur,” Bjurlin said. “I know that he makes more bowls than anyone else.”

“Once a year, lots of us gather there to have a ‘bowling party’ – an evening devoted to making pieces for Empty Bowls,” said Bjurlin.

Each bowl is tagged with a “suggested” donation, and the amount raised from Empty Bowls has increased each year.

Bjurlin said the first on-campus event raised about $500. This year, the potters pushed themselves to exceed the $1,000 mark for bowls, and they hope to raise more money than ever. The total raised over the last several years is more than $50,000.

Kathleen Peterson, executive director of Rural Ministry, said proceeds from Empty Bowls represent the single largest donation received by the organization. She said it has grown to such a successful fundraising event that proceeds not only benefit Friendly Kitchen, where free meals are served seven days a week, but that food pantries are helped, as well.

More than 10,000 meals each month are provided through the local kitchen and by food pantries in the area, Peterson said. She noted the number of people showing up for emergency food or a meal at Friendly Kitchen has risen dramatically.

“I am humbled and pleased that so many people help with this cause,” she added.

Students from the LoGuidice BOCES in Fredonia make three different types of soup, and their counterparts from Hewes BOCES, Ashville, make the cookies for the event, which also features live music.

Soup, cookies and bread will be served in the bowls until supplies run out.