Orthodox Youth Tackle Hunger through ‘Souper Bowl’

Baltimore, MD (December 17, 2002) — On Super Bowl Sunday, Orthodox Christian young people across the country will huddle to help children and families suffering from war, poverty and natural disaster.

Youth groups and church school classes will collect dollars and non-perishable food items in large soup pots during the “Souper Bowl of Caring” on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2003, to support charities of their choice.

This is the fifth consecutive year that Orthodox churches are joining the nationwide, ecumenical effort to help organizations such as International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).

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

The “Souper Bowl of Caring” 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 2002, nearly 11,000 congregations, including many Orthodox parishes, participated and generated $3.1 million for various charities.

The 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 supporting a charity such as IOCC. This year, “Souper Bowl” organizers expect 15,000 churches to raise an estimated $4 million for worthy organizations nationwide.

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 13 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 21 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.