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Are You Ready for the Souper Bowl?
By Susan Hines-Brigger


An Alternative Idea
Get Involved
For Teens: Engaging in a Friendly Rivalry
For Kids: Gather the Wagons

I love football. So the month of January is especially exciting for me as the playoff race unfolds, leading to the Super Bowl. Each year my family and friends gather at someone’s house for the big game where we enjoy each other’s company, hopefully a good game and, of course, lots of good food. In fact, some years it has rivaled a Thanksgiving feast.

The reality of our world today is that there are a lot of people who barely have enough to eat every day, let alone indulge in elegant spreads on occasions such as a football game. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that some 840 million people in our world are hungry and malnourished.

An Alternative Idea

It was that reality that inspired Brad Smith’s prayer given on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday in 1988. A seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, he prayed, “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat.”

The prayer sparked an idea in Smith. What if he asked members of the congregation to donate just one dollar to help the hungry? He would have the youth of the church collect the money in large soup pots, and would then send the donations to a local charity of the church’s choice.

Two years later, when he became associate pastor at Spring Valley, he presented the idea to the youth of the parish. The Senior Youth Group took the idea and ran with it. They invited other area churches—seven different denominations—to join in the effort called the Souper Bowl of Caring. That first year, 22 Columbia churches collected $5,700. The next year the program went statewide. In 1993 it went national.

Fast-forward to 2003. For last year’s Souper Bowl, 11,083 organizations collected $3,523,966 in donations. Since the program began, $20 million has been collected for soup kitchens and food banks throughout the United States.

Also, in addition to the collection on Super Bowl Sunday, there is now the Souper Bowl Service Blitz. It is held the day before the Super Bowl and is an opportunity for participants to spend time volunteering at the charity that their donations will benefit.

Get Involved

Even if you’re not a football fan, the Super Bowl serves as a good yearly reminder that we are called to help those less fortunate. Here are several ways your family can answer that call:

• Take part in the Souper Bowl Service Blitz on January 31 this year. If your parish isn’t organizing an event, organize one yourself. Call your local soup kitchen and ask if you and your family could volunteer to help serve a meal.

• Host a Super Bowl party at your parish—if you have the facilities—and have admission be one dollar or a canned good. You can also do the same thing if you’re hosting a party at your home. Whatever you raise can then be added to your parish’s collection total.

• Visit the Web sites of Catholic Relief Services or the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s Poverty USA to discover other ways that your family can help fight hunger both locally and throughout the world.

• Visit for information on ways to promote the Souper Bowl of Caring in your parish, suggestions for various activities, a step-by-step game plan for a successful Souper Bowl and much more.

Next Month: Candlemas Day



For Teens: Engaging in a Friendly Rivalry

Want to have your own version of football’s Super Bowl but combine it with the mission of the Souper Bowl? Gather some of your friends and form two teams. Or square off against another church or organization in your area.

Wage a friendly competition by seeing which team can collect the most money or food for a local charity, soup kitchen or food bank.

You could ask your pastor if you could collect donations following weekend Masses. Or you could go around your neighborhood asking for donations of canned goods. (Make sure you tell people the purpose of your collection.) Try to come up with some of your own original and creative ideas for ways you can go head-to-head for a worthy cause.

Afterward, see which team was able to gather the most money or canned goods. The winning team gets bragging least until the next Souper Bowl.

For Kids: Gather the Wagons

Not too long ago, some young men from a local high school came to my door and asked if I would be willing to donate some canned goods or other food items for their school food drive. I was so impressed that these young men would take time out of their weekend to devote to such a worthy cause that I filled their arms with stuff. They loaded it into a wagon they were pulling and headed to the next house.

If you’ve got a wagon, ask your mom, dad, older brother or sister if they would accompany you around your neighborhood so you could ask for donations of canned goods or other food items. You probably don’t want to go collecting during the actual Super Bowl. You may not get quite as good a response! Try collecting sometime before the Souper Bowl event so that you can bag the food and bring it to church as your donation for the Souper Bowl.


Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to

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