Those in need
Some 20 churches in Union County have been contacted and are expected to participate in the Souper Bowl of Caring this weekend.
After the holidays, generous donations of the season have been used for those who needed help during that time.
The post-holiday season is a time for replenishing needed supplies. The national Souper Bowl of Caring project has become an annual tradition for many congregations, schools and service clubs throughout the United States, which can make a big difference for charities who serve the community’s most vulnerable.While America turns its attention to football for Super Bowl XLIII Sunday, congregations and other groups are working to transform Super Bowl weekend into the nation’s largest youth-led weekend of giving and serving through the Souper Bowl of Caring. Experiencing phenomenal growth in its 20-year history, the Souper Bowl of Caring project started with 22 churches and has grown to more than 14,000 groups nationwide in 2008.
That first donation to a local charity of $5,700 grew to more than $10 million in 2008, benefiting local charities across the U.S. This movement has generated more than $50 million since the Souper Bowl of Caring conception.
“For two decades, people have been setting the standard for compassion and service through the Souper Bowl of Caring,” said Rev. Brad Smith, founder and executive director. “Now, more and more people across the country are catching on and joining this amazing effort.”
“Imagine the impact we could make if the 100 million Americans who tune in to the big game gave just $1 each to someone in need,” said Smith. “I hope everyone will follow the lead of young people and others to get involved this year.”
With the worsening economic crisis in the United States, especially in rural America, it is critical for individuals and organizations to become actively involved in assisting those in need. With the unemployment rate at 12.8 percent here in Union County, food, shelter and other basic provisions are greatly needed. Donna Fuhrman, from Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries, a non-profit organization in La Grande, noted that more than 300 people are being supplied with food each month, 85 of them children. According to Fuhrman, last month alone there was an increase of 60 families requesting food and other assistance.
Neighbor to Neighbor also supplies firewood to those needing fuel for heating and sponsors a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for 300 people each year. The Salvation Army and food banks in Union, Elgin and North Powder also distribute food.
According to Bob Brown, Souper Bowl of Caring coordinator, “Participation is as easy as just giving. Some 20 churches in Union County have been contacted and are expected to participate in the event.
“Our local congregations,” he said, “will join more than 17,000 congregations, schools, clubs and businesses that have signed up to participate as part of the nationwide Souper Bowl of Caring effort to transform Super Bowl weekend into the largest youth-led weekend of giving and serving, now in its 20th year.
“This is a great project,” Brown added, “as 100 percent of all donations stay here in Union County.”
There are no administrative costs, and people can work together for a common cause — to help fight hunger.
There are also opportunities for hands-on service experiences through Souper Bowl of Caring Service Blitz, which encourages volunteerism with the charities receiving the donations.
Locally, congregations and other groups are encouraged to contact organizations such as Neighbor-to-Neighbor, Youth for Christ, Shelter From the Storm, Community Connection and local food banks if they want to share by giving their time through a day of service.
Brown noted that it’s not too late to participate in Souper Bowl of Caring. Once collections are made, donations are delivered to charities the churches or groups choose. Donations can also be collected later at any time and given to the local charity.
It is also interesting that one of the football teams playing in this year’s Super Bowl XLIII, the Arizona Cardinals, is an advocate of the Souper Bowl of Caring. Six other teams in the National Football League are also advocates.
Brown said he hopes many will join the Souper Bowl of Caring team. Any individual or group can make a donation of food or money. Donations can also be dropped off at Zion Lutheran Church, 902 Fourth St. in La Grande between 8 a.m. and noon. Monday through Friday.
Questions regarding the project can be directed to Bob Brown at 568-4230.