IOCC, Orthodox Youth Make a Winning Team in ‘Souper Bowl’

Baltimore, MD (January 7, 2004) — The young people of Sts. Constantine & Helen Orthodox Church in Palos Hills, Ill., did more than watch a football game on Super Bowl Sunday last year. They joined the “Souper Bowl of Caring” and made a difference in the lives of people in need, collecting 150 grocery bags full of food for the parish’s food pantry and $1,500 for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).

They are part of a growing movement of Orthodox Christian young people who participate in the annual “Souper Bowl of Caring.” Their game plan for 2004 is simple: collect dollars and non-perishable food items after Divine Liturgy on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1, and give the in-kind and monetary donations to charity.

This is the sixth consecutive year that Orthodox churches will join the nationwide, ecumenical effort to help organizations such as IOCC, the humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians.

IOCC encourages participation in the “Souper Bowl of Caring” as a way to promote volunteerism and community service among Orthodox young people.

The “Souper Bowl” began at a Presbyterian church in Columbia, S.C., in 1990 and has grown into a grassroots movement linked with the national pastime of Super Bowl Sunday. In 2003, about 12,000 congregations, including many Orthodox parishes, participated and generated more than $3.5 million for various charities.

This year’s game plan calls for young people to receive donations in large soup pots at their church exits. As parishioners leave worship on Super Bowl Sunday, they are invited to give a monetary and canned-good donation.

The young people, with the guidance of their youth leader or parish priest, can help locally by giving the food items to a food pantry or soup kitchen, and globally by send their monetary donation to a charity such as IOCC. “Souper Bowl” organizers expect 15,000 churches to raise support for worthy organizations nationwide in 2004.

By selecting IOCC as their charity of choice, youth groups will be able to support programs that feed and clothe vulnerable children and educate and train young people in 14 countries.

Once the donations are counted, each parish is encouraged to call 1-800-358-SOUP or visit www.souperbowl.org to report the amount collected, so that the efforts of Orthodox Christians can be added to the national total. All the money raised goes to the charities selected by the participants.

Since its founding in 1992, IOCC has helped people in 23 countries through programs of development, emergency assistance and community empowerment.

Packets have been sent out to all Orthodox parishes with a “playbook” for participating in the “Souper Bowl of Caring.” Resources also are available online at www.iocc.org/souperbowl.

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