Home Community Organizations 'A Souper' Idea Raises Millions for the Hungry

'A Souper' Idea Raises Millions for the Hungry

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Feb. 1, 2007 – On a day when the world focuses on football and fun, young people across the country are quietly raising millions to help people who are hungry through a program known as the Souper Bowl of Caring. Everyone can become part of this grassroots movement.
In 1990, youth at one church in Columbia, S.C. were inspired to help hungry people. Their idea was to hold soup pots and collect $1 each from worshippers on Super Bowl Sunday. That first year, 22 churches participated, collecting $5,700 for the hungry.
This simple movement that began in a youth group has grown into a national, youth-led event. Since 1993, people of all faiths and ages have joined to generate $28 million for those who are hungry and hurting. Because all of the money is donated to charities chosen by each participant, food banks, soup kitchens and shelters across the country are receiving the funds necessary to make it through the winter months after the boom of holiday giving has dwindled.
My Brothers' Table was organized by Janet Hancock in response to the needs raised by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. It is a non-profit ecumenical organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, serving meals Mondays through Fridays in its own building, the Viola Otis Steinmann Community Center. The number of meals served annually has steadily escalated, reaching a total for calendar year 2006 of 11,373. Categorizing the organization as a soup kitchen does not do it justice, for it typically serves seasoned rice, with meat, vegetable, salad, bread, dessert, and juice. Vegetarian servings are offered for those who request them.
One volunteer describes her visit: "What struck me immediately when I went to My Brother's Table for the first time was the resilience and positivism that it emanated, which is not a norm for a shelter for the homeless. The premises is spotlessly clean and the food served is well cooked and given in generous quantities. Around noon the doors are opened, and the people come inside, take their preliminaries like salad, spoon kit and juice in a very orderly manner, find seats for themselves and stand up in reverence of a prayer. One person from among them leads Grace and then everyone sits and waits to be served. For the while I have been volunteering, which is over a month, I have not witnessed any strong misuse of language or any serious abuse. Considering that these are homeless, penniless people, and one would assume they haven't a sense for how to conduct oneself, I must say these people are testaments to respecting the things we take for granted. They eat their food as though it is the first meal they are having, do not waste even a grain of rice or a crumb of bread and say thank you.
The two ladies who cook the food daily are very respectful toward every one. They have a great way of working around these people and I must say are an asset to the shelter.
It shows God's mercy reigns on the hearts and minds of the people who sustain and serve generous meals to these poor people every day. They are in the real sense, re-carving the hallmarks that define good human beings."
A former guest of my Brothers' Table writes: "I did not come from the 'street,' but there certainly was value in surviving on the outer edges of that environment. As invisible as I was, all the loving people I came in contact with from "My Brothers' Table" were the absolute most caring people I've ever met in really bad times. Whatever the shame or the guilt or the worry…it was a non-issue because they (all involved with My Brothers' Table) were only interested in one thing–showing some love. The main value is this…I will never see someone go hungry if I could help it and even those individuals who, unfortunately, will never say thank you, really do appreciate the food, the love and caring."
You can send your Souper Bowl donations to: My Brothers' Table, P.O. Box 3194, Frederiksted, V.I. 00841. Or you can donate on Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m., at Jazz Vespers, St. Croix Reformed Church on the Hill in Estate La Reine.
For information, call Rev. Rodney Koopmans, executive director, at 778-0520.

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