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On pins and needles: Stone Soup hoping for big turnout at bowling fundraiser

Administrators at Stone Soup Thrift Shop said they hope to raise $50,000 during their sixth-annual Stone Soup-er Bowl on May 17 at Park Grove Bowl in St. Paul Park.

But with the event less than three weeks away, only about a dozen teams have registered. That’s not nearly enough to fill the 24 lanes at the bowling alley. 

The deadline for registering is May 2, said Majel Carroll, board president of Basic Needs Inc. of South Washington County, the nonprofit that operates Stone Soup.

It’s not unusual for registration to lag until the last minute, when they get a surge of 11th-hour sign-ups, Carroll said.

“That’s what happened in the past,” Carroll said. But, she added: “You never want to make the assumption that it’s going to happen (again).”

Last year, 58 teams competed in the all-day bowling party, which raised $45,000. The money came from donations collected by teams of four or five people prior to the event. In return, they get to bowl for free and get a complementary T-shirt and snacks.

Sven Sundgaard, a Cottage Grove native and KARE-TV meteorologist, will mingle at the event.

This year’s theme is “Alice in Wonderland.” Teams are encouraged to wear costumes but it’s not required. A prize for best costume will be awarded during each of the five sessions. Other prizes will be given away throughout the day.

“There’s enough prizes that everybody leaves with something,” Carroll said.

Teams that register late can’t be guaranteed a T-shirt in their size, she said.

This year, the team that brings in the most donations gets a ticket for dinner to the American Motorsports Bar and Grill in Cottage Grove.

Proceeds from the Soup-er Bowl account for about one-fifth of their projected $248,635 budget for this year. They have $25,000 in pledges so far for this year’s event, Carroll said.

“We always count on it to bring in a substantial part of our budget,”Carroll said.

Carroll said she knows the community will come through and help Stone Soup the way they have helped hundreds of needy families. Last year they gave away over $100,000 in free goods.

The retail store is a valuable community resource, Carroll said, since buying a couch, cake bowl or linens at a greatly reduced cost leaves more money to pay other bills.

In addition to making enough to pay $19,000 in monthly operating expenses, Stone Soup now faces competition from the Goodwill retail store, which opened April 26 in Cottage Grove.

Jen Peterson, board vice president of Basic Needs, Inc., said she wasn’t concerned that Goodwill would siphon customers from their retail store.

“I think some people really like the fact that Stone Soup is so very local in what it does,” she said. “Goodwill is great but it doesn’t have the very local focus that Stone Soup does.”

Peterson, a Cottage Grove City Council member, said that teams could chip in and donate money themselves if they didn’t want to collect donations from others.

“We have people who come the day of the event and write a $100 check,” Peterson said.

Financial sponsors include 3M, Northern Tier Energy, SuperAmerica and SuperMom’s bakery. Local businesses and churches also are doing their part, Carroll said.

The Soup-er Bowl runs from 9 6:30 p.m. at Park Grove Bowl,1020 Hastings Ave., in St. Paul Park.

Registration forms can be downloaded at They can also be picked up at Stone Soup Thrift Shop, 950 Third St., Suite 101, in St. Paul Park.

For more information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, call the shop at 651-458-9786.