While football fans prepared to indulge in the excesses of Super Bowl Sunday, churchgoers and local youth raised funds to fill the bowls of the less fortunate.
The Presbyterian Youth Fellowship, a youth group at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church comprised of high school and junior high school students, participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring, a nationwide fund-raising effort to combat hunger.
On the morning of Super Bowl Sunday, 10 members of the youth group collected donations of one dollar or more from parishioners as they left the Sunday service at the church in downtown Santa Barbara. St. Andrew’s was the only church in the Santa Barbara area to take part in the fund-raiser.
The youth group, which has participated in the Souper Bowl for the past four years, raised $265.60 this year, adviser Sandra McGreevy said. This is less than last year’s total of $335.83. McGreevy said this was due to a smaller number of people who attended the service. All proceeds collected by the group were donated directly to the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County.
“A lot of people were really enthusiastic, especially since [the money] goes to local charity and you see the direct effects,” said Genevieve McGreevy, a senior at Dos Pueblos High School.
The Souper Bowl is part of a national fund-raising effort based in Columbia, S.C., that encourages the youth of churches and schools to collect dollars in soup pots on Super Bowl Sunday for the charity of their choice. Last year, the efforts of Souper Bowl participants nationwide raised $3.5 million for various charities.
Brenda Hellams, marketing director of the Souper Bowl, said the fund-raiser grew from a prayer by a young seminary intern in 1989 that said, “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game today, let us remember those who have not even a bowl of soup to eat.”
“The Super Bowl is characterized by consumption. We think, wouldn’t it be beautiful to harness the energy of young people toward giving rather than getting?” Hellams said.
Don Dexter, associate pastor of St. Andrew’s, said he was surprised by the amount of money that could be raised with such small contributions.
“I’m intrigued by the idea that so much money can be raised a dollar at a time,” he said. “It goes to show that we’re not saviors of the world but individuals who do our part. Many hands make light work.”
Sandra McGreevy said she was pleased with the simplicity and effectiveness of the fund-raiser.
“Any time you ask the public for donations, people – myself included – just cringe. But if you just ask for a dollar, a lot of people have a dollar in their pocket,” she said. “Some people will even just throw $20 into the soup bowl. Even little kids dig out some money from their piggy bank and put it into the bowl.”
Hellams said the Souper Bowl encourages unity among the different denominations of churches and organizations involved.
“We live in an era of division,” she said. “The goal of the Souper Bowl of Caring is unity.”