Souper Bowl stresses giving, not gluttony - Catholic Courier

Souper Bowl stresses giving, not gluttony

DeAnna Darling is to "Souper Bowls" what the New England Patriots are to Super Bowls: she’s taken part in quite a few.

DeAnna, 17, has annually assisted with the Souper Bowl of Caring since at least her middle-school years — "probably even before that, since I tagged along on pretty much every youth-group project with my mom and sister (Amanda, 20)," she remarked.

This volunteer activity takes place at St. Anthony Church in Groton, where DeAnna’s mother, Carolann, serves as youth minister. This year the Darlings and other youth-group members have scheduled their Souper Bowl collections for the 4:30 p.m. Saturday Masses on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5, the day before Super Bowl Sunday. Young people will be stationed at church entranceways, holding soup pots to receive donations — large pots for food and smaller ones for money, according to DeAnna.

Souper Bowl of Caring involves collections of cash and nonperishable food by youth groups nationwide, including many in the Diocese of Rochester. Other Southern Tier parishes besides St. Anthony to have staged Souper Bowls in recent years include Blessed Sacrament in Elmira; Immaculate Conception in Ithaca; St. Gabriel in Hammondsport; Schuyler Catholic Community; All Saints in Corning/Painted Post; Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick in Tioga County; and All Saints in Lansing, which is in the same cluster as St. Anthony.

Parishes designate Souper Bowl funds for the charities of their choice, usually within their own communities. For instance, St. Anthony proceeds go to Groton Food Providers, a pantry that regularly serves approximately 100 area families and also is available for emergency food supplies. Carolann Darling said the parish provides ongoing support for Groton Food Providers "but this national event allows us to provide a little extra awareness of the hungry in our community, and invites an opportunity for our youth to become active participants instead of just passive observers."

Holding the collections helps fulfill the Souper Bowl’s objective of aiding underprivileged people by diverting some of the millions of dollars that change hands for a single football game through advertising, betting or seeing the Super Bowl in person — or, most commonly, hosting or attending a party. Carolann Darling remarked that there’s "such an incredible abundance of pre-game, during-game and post-game food recipes and party platters," adding that the Souper Bowl "helps to keep such potentially selfish and gluttonous events into proper perspective."

"Times are tough now, and it is up to us to make a difference in someone’s life by even a simple food donation," her daughter added. "This particular project is nice because it reminds people that when they have their Super Bowl parties, there are still people who will go without food that day."

DeAnna and her mother observed that the Super Bowl — and Souper Bowl — occur during a lull following Christmas and New Year’s when people’s focus on others’ needs may not be as strong.

"It’s not something they always have on their minds after getting gifts and visiting with friends and family," DeAnna said, emphasizing that charitable giving is a 12-month responsibility for all regardless of whether it’s through the Souper Bowl or other means: "Every day is a time to give back. That is, at least, what I hope others gain from the event."

Souper Bowl of Caring was founded in 1990 by a group of Presbyterian youths from South Carolina. It has since grown into an ecumenical effort in all 50 states as well as Canada. According to the Souper Bowl website at, there are 14,223 groups registered for the 2011 Souper Bowl. As a reflection of its rapid growth, the initiative has netted more than $10 million for charities in each of the last three years after having only reached the $1 million mark for the first time in 1997.

Catholic parishes typically do their Souper Bowl collections at Masses on Super Bowl weekend. Carolann Darling explained that St. Anthony spreads its effort over two weeks since there is only one weekend liturgy there. She noted that St. Anthony began its Souper Bowl participation in 2004, and to date the northern Tompkins County parish has collected nearly $1,400 and more than 100 pounds of food overall.

"For a small rural parish, we are pleased with results and the response of our community," she said.

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