What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 31, 2016

Yes, the Super Bowl will be here again in just a few days. That entertainment extravaganza with some football thrown in. (I kid, I kid.)

Seriously, The Super Bowl has become a Winter Event, even for people who do not ordinarily watch football. Except—it’s become much more than that, in several other, important areas. Including the area I highlight here, in last year’s post. My friend Pastor Ross recently left the Presbyterian church in Cuyahoga Falls and moved to a new church. (All the best at your new church, Fairgreen Presbyterian Church, in Toledo, Ross!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 31, 2014

souper bowl of caring 

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

The Super Bowl is almost upon us, here in the United States. This finale to the 2013-14 football season will bring people from across the country—and across the world—together to watch the extravaganza, the festivities, the commercials. Oh, yes. And the football game, too.

As I have a pastor friend at a church in Ohio. (I featured this church in Ohio two weeks ago, with Yarn Alive!) My friend, Ross, is a pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Ohio. One of the mission outreaches at their church is Souper Bowl of Caring. What, you might ask, is Souper Bowl of Caring? Good question! I’m glad you asked. Put simply, this effort uses “the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth in a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.” (from the Souper Bowl Mission Statement)

A brief history of this outreach, from the Souper Bowl of Caring website: “A simple prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat” is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world.

“This prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to an idea. Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy? Youth could collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar DIRECTLY to a local charity of THEIR choice.”

This outreach effort started in 1990. Other churches joined the team, and by 1997 Souper Bowl of Caring reached $1 million and kept right on going. In 2004, the first NFL owners joined the Souper Bowl team. Also in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush kicked off the caring effort that year. In 2008, the national total for the food and funds drive topped $10 million.  And it’s still continuing to grow.

Whether in local congregations like the church in Cuyahoga Falls or Toledo, Ohio, or in city-wide efforts like in Houston, Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth, the Souper Bowl of Caring is a tremendous opportunity to be kind to people, where it counts—in the pocketbook. Pocketbook issues are a concern to people across the nation. With unemployment and under-employment so prevalent, and costs for basics such as heating going through the roof in this challenging winter, all the more reason to give something, if we can!

Pastor Ross said recently, “I hope you are able to make an extra run to the store just for this cause. We are blessed to be a blessing. The need is substantial, and UPC can help with your help.” What a wonderful way to bless those who have real needs. Whether with cans of soup or chili donated to local food pantries, or with cash donations to the charity of YOUR choice, please consider giving. What a way to join in. Join this caring team. For a Super—I mean, Souper Bowl, indeed.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my regular blog for 2016: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Be Kind? Be of Service? Feed Lots of People! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, December 5, 2014

God's masterpiece Eph-2-10

Be Kind? Be of Service? Feed Lots of People! (Feature Friday!)

At this giving time of the year, I am reminded of my recent favorite mission organization, Stop Hunger Now! This is not only a giving time of the year, for some people—lots of people—this is a hungry time of the year, as well.

Yes, I know there are earnest protests going on across the United States today. And, yes. These sit-ins and other forms of protest in the aftermath of the #EricGarner verdict are important. However—I have been focusing my Friday Feature this whole year on being kind. Helpful. Of service. I would like to lift up something hopeful, something praiseworthy. A wonderful way to be of service! Stop Hunger Now! has a tremendous track record for feeding thousands of people at a time with nutritious, filling, inexpensive meals. And, this mission effort reaches all over the world now, too.

Just to recap, this organization has come up with an efficient, tasty way of packaging dry meals, to be shipped where most needed. Where hunger is currently devastating lives. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix can be packed by volunteer teams, and sent all over the world. And, for a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too!

First, I would like to lift up the tremendous effort made last week, at this giving time of the year. All across the United States, amidst the busy-ness of Thanksgiving week, Stop Hunger Now volunteers packed 1.7 MILLION meals for distribution. (These statistics can be verified at the Stop Hunger Now Facebook page.) That amount’s in just one week. These meals can go to families in need, to feed hungry people all around the world. Now, that’s something to be truly thankful for.

Right this minute, there are sixteen North Carolina State graduate students (from the School of Social Work) traveling to the Philippines. These students will measure the impact of Stop Hunger Now’s meals on the local communities they reach. And as the Stop Hunger Now! Facebook page says, “This vital information will allow us to refine and improve our ability to serve the impoverished and undernourished across the country.”

I am reminded of my verse for December – Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Truly, providing food for hungry people is certainly something God-honoring. And, it’s also something that our Lord Jesus commands in Matthew 25:34-40. What a way to be of service, and please God, at the same time.

Stop Hunger Now! kindly asks that everyone keep the group traveling in the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers, especially as Super Typhoon #Hagupit prepares for landfall this weekend. Thanks!

@chaplaineliza

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