Organization Brings Souper Bowl of Caring to Jacksonville, Sets Goal to Raise $5 Million

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Souper Bowl of Caring is rallying churches, schools and other youth-related groups to raise $5 million to fight hunger during the weekend of Super Bowl XXXIX. It hopes to mobilize 1,000 youth from 250 organizations to raise $200,000 in Jacksonville, Fla. which will host the big game.

A grassroots organization committed to getting youth involved in the fight against hunger hopes to raise $5 million nationwide in connection with Super Bowl XXXIX. And they plan to do it $1 at a time.

Born in the youth fellowship of a South Carolina church, the effort mobilizes groups to receive $1 donations from parishioners as they leave services on, or near, the day of the big game. Youth holding large soup pots stand at sanctuary exits to receive the funds. Each group then sends every dollar they collect directly to the charity of their choice. Organizers don’t touch the money, only asking participants to report their totals so national figures can be determined. Many schools also participate.

Souper Bowl of Caring has set the goal of $200,000 for the Jacksonville community, which is playing host to Super Bowl XXXIX. In Jacksonville, Souper Bowl of Caring also wants to mobilize 1,000 youth from at least 250 area churches and schools for its Feb. 5, 2005 Youth Service Blitz. That’s the day youth are encouraged to volunteer by helping out at area soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food banks.

“The best part about Souper Bowl of Caring is that it is voluntary, it teaches our youth how to give of their time and talents and the money that is collected stays in their community,” said Rev. Dr. Brad Smith, executive director, who founded Souper Bowl of Caring in 1991 as a church youth group project. “Although Souper Bowl of Caring is a small step in the fight against hunger, it is a way for young people to see they can make a difference in the lives of others.”

Across Florida, Souper Bowl of Caring has a goal of getting 800 congregations and schools involved to raise $300,000 statewide for charity. When Houston hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII, Souper Bowl of Caring raised $4.25 million nationwide.

“The excitement surrounding the ‘big game’ is everywhere in Jacksonville right now,” said Emily Heeg, Jacksonville Director for Souper Bowl of Caring. “We’re hoping that excitement will result in an even larger showing of public service to make Souper Bowl of Caring a huge success this year.”

Wayne and Delores Weaver, owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, have made a significant donation to the movement and also signed on as Honorary Chairs for the Jacksonville Initiative, which has been endorsed by the Faith-Based Sub-Committee of the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida and Winn-Dixie are also sponsoring the Jacksonville Initiative.

Part of the initiative also involves Souper Bowl Sunday, which is scheduled for Feb. 6, 2005, where youth group members hold soup pots at church exits to collect $1 from each parishioner.

About Souper Bowl of Caring Inc.

The mission of Souper Bowl of Caring is to utilize Super Bowl weekend to inspire and mobilize youth to fight hunger and poverty. Since becoming a national organization in 1993, this grassroots movement has mobilized young people to generate an aggregate of $24 million for soup kitchens, food banks and other charities. Learn more on the Web at http://www.souperbowl.org or call our offices in Columbia, S.C. toll-free (800)358-7687(SOUP).

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Eric Cravey
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