Souper Bowl Sunday Rallies Efforts of All the Saints

Parishioners of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana assembled 1,000 hygiene kits following liturgy on Sunday, January 17. “The ongoing suffering of the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti, who lack shelter, water, food, medical care and basic hygiene, is tremendous. We continue to respond to this suffering with the love of Christ.” Photo courtesy of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church

Baltimore, MD (February 17, 2010) — While millions of people watched their televisions with imploring shouts of “Who dat?” for the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl, Orthodox Christians joined together as saints of the Church to help the poor in their local communities and around the world through support for the mission of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in the “Souper Bowl of Caring” on February 7, 2010.

The “Souper Bowl of Caring” utilizes Super Bowl weekend to mobilize young people to fight hunger and poverty. Young people collect monetary and food donations during the week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday and then give them directly to charities of their choice.

This year many Orthodox Christian parishes also collected or assembled hygiene kits for use by IOCC in programs that serve the needy around the world. IOCC made an appeal for the kits following the earthquake in Haiti. The kits will be used to assist survivors of the earthquake and will also be available for use in response to disasters and situations of need throughout the world.

Clean-up buckets filled with household cleaning supplies and hygiene kits donated by St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church in Broomall, Pennsylvania are readied for shipment at the warehouse in New Windsor, Maryland. Tens of thousands of hygiene kits have been received from Orthodox Christians since the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. IOCC staff photo

“Each year we assemble ‘Gift of the Heart’ hygiene kits. This year we appealed to the local community and support from two churches, two schools, and involvement by the local University of Connecticut chapter of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, allowed us to assemble 502 hygiene kits on the Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday,” reported Fr. Marc Vranes of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Willimantic, Connecticut.

Started in a church in South Carolina, the Souper Bowl of Caring includes participants of all faiths. IOCC, the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has been encouraging Orthodox Christian youth to participate in the service activity for the past twelve years.

Fr. Dan Kovalak of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania invited his parishioners to join in the Souper Bowl efforts “to ‘give flesh’ to the Gospel reading for the day and manifest the love and consolation of Christ to those in desperate need.” The parish took a special collection for IOCC, assembled health kits, and collected canned goods that were delivered to an outreach center to help the hungry in their local community.

Those who wish to help are encouraged to continue assembling hygiene kits for shipment to Haiti and other areas of need around the world. Information on assembling hygiene and other kits is available on IOCC’s website at

The hygiene articles are just one of several types of kits that are collected by IOCC through the “Gift of the Heart” program that is coordinated by its partner, Church World Service (CWS). IOCC and CWS are members of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

A boy with disabilities who survived Haiti’s January 12 earthquake cradles a blanket and hygiene kit he received from Church World Service and International Orthodox Christian Charities, members of the ACT Alliance. He is part of a group of disabled Haitians who are receiving special attention from ACT Alliance members, including a shipment of wheelchairs, crutches and walkers recently shipped by IOCC. Photo by Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance