MORRIS – On Super Bowl Sunday, while others are watching the score of the big game, local youth are watching the total offering numbers to see if they are the season champs of the local Souper Bowl.
Peace Lutheran Church of Morris’ youth took home the Souper Bowl trophy for the second year in a row, raising $1,478 and hauling in about 30 bags of food to benefit We Care of Grundy County.
The Souper Bowl of Caring movement started more than 20 years ago with a prayer from a single youth group, according to the Souper Bowl of Caring literature.
They prayed, “Lord, as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us to be mindful of those without even a bowl of soup to eat.”
Peace Lutheran Church picked up the activity 10 years later as a way to show the youth how to serve others.
“It gives a national focus that people recognize,” Todd Enger, youth leader at Peace Lutheran said. “One hundred percent of everything made goes to charity.”
After the church presented We Care with the money and donated food, Denise Gaska, Executive Director of We Care, said they thought it would be great to get others involved.
This year they again placed Soup Kettles at local businesses, as well as getting youth groups from area schools and churches involved.
About 50 businesses and organizations participated.
“We weren’t doing it, yet we’d get the donations,” Gaska said. “We decided to focus and get the county involved.”
Like any good championship team, the youth at Peace Lutheran have had a lot of practice at giving back.
They have organized a trivia night to add to the funds that they receive in an offering at church on Super Bowl Sunday.
This is something the church has participated in for the past 10 years, two years before it became an official fundraiser for We Care.
“It’s really a team effort,” Josh Rossi, a Morris 12-year-old said. “We have trivia night and allow the congregation to gather teams to compete.”
He said it’s a fun night with prizes and a cook off and a bunch of fun trivia.
Each year We Care presents two traveling Souper Bowl trophies, one to the youth group that raises the most money, and one for the business that raises the most money.
This year’s business winner was Griffin’s Pint in Morris, which raised $537.
In addition to the money raised, Peace Lutheran youth also walk around the neighborhood where the church is located and place paper bags out for people to fill with items from a list of needs stapled to the bag.
On Super Bowl Sunday they go back to the neighborhood and collect the filled bags.
The totals for this year’s donations were $4,500 from the 50 businesses, schools, and churches who participated, down from the $7,200 raised last year.
Enger said the weather played a part in this year’s totals with their trivia night being rescheduled and some teams not being able to make the rescheduled night, as well as hampering their food collection efforts.
“Demand for We Care’s services has increased at the end of 2013 due to cuts in food stamp allocations, which affected many of the families who seek our help,” Gaska said. “Grundy County residents have shown time and again that all you have to do is let them know where help is needed, and they will rise to meet the challenge.”