- (Photo: Souper Bowl of Caring)
As millions of Americans get ready to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks, charities across the United States gear up to provide services to the less fortunate.
Known as the Souper Bowl of Caring, every year since 1990 it has coordinated thousands of charitable groups to raise money and food donations around the time of the Super Bowl.
Melissa Daigneault, spokeswoman for the Souper Bowl of Caring, told The Christian Post about how the Super Bowl time period is often known for "so much consumption."
"When you think of the statistics: 160 million people tune into the Super Bowl every year. What if each of them were to give $1 to feeding their hungry and hurting neighbors?" said Daigneault.
"Souper Bowl of Caring serves as a way to replenish the food banks and food pantries that have emptied out over the holiday season."
According to Daigneault, since 1990 Souper Bowl of Caring has raised "98 million in dollars and pounds of food for hunger relief agencies, and we should hit our $100 million mark this year."
Begun in Columbia, S.C., via the youth groups of multiple churches, the Souper Bowl of Caring has since become nationwide and included various philanthropic organizations.
One group based in Howard County, Md., is the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, a homeless shelter and crisis counseling center that operates 24 hours a day.
Anna Katz, spokeswoman at the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center told The Christian Post that her organization has "been the beneficiary of Souper Bowl of Caring Donations for the past five years."
"Grassroots has partnered with the local faith community for many programs and this seemed an excellent continuation of that partnership," said Katz. "As I recall, one of our board members brought this up as a potential fundraiser for our organization."
Katz added that for this year "faith communities that support Grassroots will conduct a Souper Bowl of Caring fundraising campaign and donate the proceeds to Grassroots."
Wichita Wagonmasters, a civic organization comprised of Kansas businessmen, will be taking part in the Souper Bowl of Caring for a second year.
Damon Schimming, current president of Wichita Wagonmasters, told CP about how his organization came to be involved.
"The wife of one of our founding members who passed away years ago approached us for assistance," said Schimming. "As a civic minded organization of local business owners and key executives, we are always open to assisting local charitable causes and giving back to our community. Our mission is to support the good life in Wichita."
Schimming also told CP that, as with last year, the group will be participating by "serving the soups to those in attendance."
"We are basically the kitchen help, serving from and cleaning the church's kitchen for the event ... In addition, we are providing 20 gallons of our award-winning chili," said Schimming.
Sara LeStrange, communications director for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, based in Austin, told CP that her organization has been partnering with Souper Bowl of Caring since 2008.
"The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas is proud to partner with Souper Bowl of Caring again in 2014 as the recipient of monetary and food donations from grocers and food drives," said LeStrange. "Our network of Partner Agencies allows us to provide meals to families across Central Texas."
Daigneault of Souper Bowl of Caring told CP that she credited the success of their nationwide charity efforts to "our selfless participants and generous donors."
"Without them, we would not be able to continue to do this each year. They recognize these simple steps and have continued to support our mission and vision," said Daigneault.
Indeed, the Souper Bowl has even received the assistance from those connected to the other Bowl, as National Football League personnel have been known to give endorsement and aid.
"We are currently supported by seven NFL teams and their owners: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs," said Daigneault.
"Our number one NFL supporter is Bob and Janice McNair, owners of the Houston Texans. Mr. McNair is a huge advocate for Souper Bowl of Caring."
According to its home page, this year's Souper Bowl of Caring began last week and will continue until game day on Sunday, Feb. 2.