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Youth will help hungry through Souper Bowl of Caring

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

Bishop William W. Morris takes aim at an inflatable football game during a visit of the Souper Bowl of Caring 2006 Blitzathon in Nashville, Tenn.
Jan. 27, 2006

A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*

Youth from across the United States will try to score a touchdown for hunger relief on the day of the national football championship game.

Armed with soup pots, youth in all 50 states and Canada will spend Feb. 5, the day of the Super Bowl, at the doors of their churches, collecting $1 or a can of food from each person walking by. The money and food will be given to a local hunger ministry or charity of their choice for the Souper Bowl of Caring.

The Super Bowl will be held in Detroit, identified by Souper Bowl of Caring officials as America’s poorest city. According to a Souper Bowl media release, Detroit is “an appropriate location to draw attention to the needs of our nation’s hungry and hurting, and (to) demonstrate how small efforts can make a difference.”

Youth from numerous denominations and faith traditions will use that weekend, transforming the days of parties and celebrations into a day of caring for the hungry and hurting.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

The Souper Bowl of Caring is an outreach that “really brings people together,” says Jay Clark, with the Division on Ministries with Young People.
The Souper Bowl is at work in churches in all states and is also endorsed by National Football League owners and local businesses. Five teams — the Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans — have endorsed the 2006 Souper Bowl.

The 15-year-old relief drive began in Columbia, S.C., sparked by a prayer by the Rev. Brad Smith, a Presbyterian minister: “Lord, as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, let us be mindful of those without even a bowl of soup to eat.”

That prayer galvanized “young people to see what God was planting in their hearts to help others, and so they spread it across the state of South Carolina and across the country,” said Souper Bowl spokesperson Tracy Bonds, a member of Shandon United Methodist Church in Columbia.

Since its inception, more than $28 million has been given to those in need. Last year, 11,000 groups and churches collected $4 million. Of those participating, 2,187 were United Methodist congregations.

This year’s theme is “One Dollar. One Day. It all adds up.”

Bonds was part of the 2006 Blitzathon, a 15-city tour that began in Miami and will end in Detroit on Feb. 4. The tour is introducing people of all ages to the Souper Bowl of Caring and urging them to get involved.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

Young people get the chance to help others through the Souper Bowl of Caring, says spokesperson Tracy Bonds.
In Nashville, Tenn., the tour stopped at the Denman Building, home of several United Methodist agencies. There, the Souper Bowl crew was hosted by the Rev. Jay Clark and the United Methodist Division on Ministries with Young People.

Clark, the manager of faith formation for the division, said that all money raised by local churches stays within that community. “It is something that any church can do, from the largest congregation to the smallest,” he said. “It is something that really brings people together.” He added that the outreach “is something that youth can do without any help from adults.”

Seeing the Souper Bowl RV in the parking lot of the Denman Building inspired Bishop William Morris, interim top executive of the Commission on United Methodist Men, to don his hat, coat and gloves and venture outside to toss footballs into an inflatable football game.

“The Souper Bowl is a very important cause because of the ministry that goes on as a result of it,” he said. He encouraged United Methodists to participate in the event because “any way in which we can be involved in mission and improve the lives of people, we have no other choice but to be involved. That takes many different avenues ... but you have to reach people in all sorts of ways.”

After a day of service and fund raising, youth will register their donations by going to the Souper Bowl of Caring’s Web site at or calling (800) 358-SOUP (3687).

The United Methodist Committee on Relief also encourages United Methodist congregations to use the “The Souper Bowl of Caring” as an opportunity to involve youth in mission and raise funds for hunger projects. As the youth choose what hunger ministries they will support on Feb. 5, the relief agency requests consideration of UMCOR’s Hunger/Poverty Program, Advance #982920 and/or South Asia Emergency, Advance #274305.

Donations may be sent through a local United Methodist church, annual conference or directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. For credit-card donations, call (800) 554-8583.

College band featured in ad

A United Methodist-related college is also involved in the Super Bowl festivities. The percussion section and the head drum major of the Marching Wildcats of historically black Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla., will be featured in a commercial for the 2006 DTS Cadillac. The commercial will run about 60 days and will debut during the second half or the post-game show of the Super Bowl. For more information, visit the school’s Website at

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

Audio Interviews

Tracey Bonds: ?It started with a prayer.?

Jay Clark: ?It?s something any church can do.?

Bishop William Morris: ?We have no choice but to be involved.?

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