Soup, It Does ‘the Soul’ Good
By Heather Peck Stahl
– For more than 30 years, United Methodist churches have supported Red
Bird Mission by donating Campbell’s Soup labels. Through the Campbell’s
Soup Company’s Labels for Education program, Red Bird Mission is able to
exchange soup labels for much needed equipment and supplies that help
support mission and ministry.
1921, Red Bird Mission has helped to meet the spiritual, educational
and health needs of those living in Southeast Kentucky. The ministry
exists due in large part to the support of churches of various
denominations, but it’s programs like Campbell’s that help fill the
14,000 Campbell's Soup labels collected in 1974, the program’s first
year, is a far cry from last year’s 1.25 million labels.|
The 14,000 labels collected in 1974, the program’s first
year, is a far cry from last year’s 1.25 million labels. Over the
years, the mission has earned seven minivans, 15 passenger vans, and
various school supplies.
According to Brian Barker, director of
mission giving for Red Bird Mission, more than half of the adults in the
mission do not have a high school education and 50 percent of the labor
force is unemployed.
“The fact that people from at least 35
states, mostly United Methodists, are mailing us their Campbell’s labels
illustrates the power of the connectional church,” says Barker. “A
bunch of people joined together to do a simple thing to make a huge
difference in our community.
“The labels allow us to buy items we
would otherwise not be able to afford; and frees us to use financial
donations for community outreach, such as food, clothing and shelter,”
While one van costs between one million and 1.5
million Campbell’s Soup labels, the vans earned are used for
school-related trips for the church-sponsored Red Bird Mission School.
Then, the vans are used to provide transportation for those who can’t
drive or have no vehicle, for volunteers to deliver meals to senior
citizens and for medical caregivers. In addition, the vans transport
crafts made by Red Bird residents to raise money for the mission or to
transport supplies for volunteers to use when repairing homes or serving
Red Bird residents in various capacities.
Tracy Nolan, director of
community outreach for Red Bird since 1999, explained, “Most people
don’t realize how critical these vans are to us. Without the vans, we
would have no means to conduct most of our ministries. In just home
delivery of meals alone, we must drive 160 miles each day; and that’s
only a fraction of what we use them for.”
Nolan, director of community outreach for Red Bird since 1999,
explained, “Most people don’t realize how critical these vans are to us.
Without the vans, we would have no means to conduct most of our
“Each time someone
sends in a label,” she says, “he or she is helping provide
transportation for a meal to a family, a homeless person to receive
shelter, a sick person to see a doctor or pick up medications, an adult
to get to GED classes, or a shut-in to find friendships at a senior
Nolan recalls how one of the vans was recently once used
for more than transportation. While delivering groceries to a local
couple a volunteer learned that the couple’s trailer had no water,
electricity or bathrooms. “If it weren’t for our transportation
ministry, we wouldn’t have known this couple needed help because they
never once mentioned it to us. We were able to help them get a septic
tank, electricity and a new trailer.”
In addition to the vans,
Campbell’s Soup labels have helped the Red Bird Mission School receive
much-needed supplies for which the school could not afford to pay, such
as an aquarium, library books, balls, videos and cassettes.
Saylor, who has been teaching high school business education classes for
six years at the school, recently received a TV-VCR for her classroom.
Saylor says the TV-VCR
allows her students to watch subject-related videos and learn how to
make PowerPoint presentations. “My kids are so excited,” she says, “The
TV-VCR has opened up all new possibilities in learning, and I’m so happy
to see the students’ minds open. I’m so grateful for the Campbell’s
Soup labels to have given us this wonderful gift.”
addition to the vans, Campbell’s Soup labels have helped the Red Bird
Mission School receive much-needed supplies for which the school could
not afford to pay, such as an aquarium, library books, balls, videos and
250 students who go to Red Bird Mission School pay on a sliding scale
ranging from $8 a month to $51 a month, the school has an operating
budget of $1.5 million a year. Red Bird relies heavily on financial
donations for day-to-day upkeep of the school.
Everyday, one to
ten volunteers sort, count and prepare the labels for redemption at the
Red Bird Clinic. Once a year in the spring the labels are boxed in
groups of 70,000 and placed on wrapped pallets. Red Bird Mission then
pays between $300 and $500 to freight the labels to the redemption
In addition, Red Bird Mission collects General Mills box
tops and Tyson Foods’ Project A+ labels. If you would like to support
this ministry, please mail all certificates and labels to: Red Bird
Mission, Attn.: Fran Woodworth, HC 69 Box 700, Beverly, Kentucky
40913. Learn more about Red Bird Mission’s label program.
Donations to the Red Bird Mission School can be made through the Advance #773728-4. Learn how you can give to the Advance. Other donations to the Red Bird Mission can be made to the address listed above.
For more information, contact Barker at (606) 598-3155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Heather Peck Stahl is a freelance journalist and editor from Nashville, Tenn.
This article was developed by United Methodist Communications.