For at least sixteen years, the youth group at Covenant Presbyterian Church has sponsored the “Souper Bowl of Caring” on Super Bowl Sunday. An idea first generated by a South Carolina youth group in 1990, the event is one of several that Covenant holds each year to benefit the Presbyterian Community Center in Roanoke.
As the name implies, it’s all about soup. On game day, Covenant members show up with armloads and carloads of soup cans. This year, the youth set a goal based on the Biblical account of Jesus’s feeding of the 5,000. One can of soup serves two, so the goal was to collect 2,500 cans.
Under the leadership of youth director Mary MacMichael, the middle schoolers and high schoolers set up a friendly “co-opetition” by dividing the congregation into two teams. Half of the members were assigned to the “Tomato Soup” team and the other half became members of the “Chicken Soup” team.
During the Sunday services leading up to Souper Bowl Sunday, some of the youth performed brief skits to motivate members to bring in their donations. They donned team colors—red for tomato soup and yellow for chicken noodle—and led short cheers.
MacMichael said, “It is an inspiration to all of us to see young people enthused about working together to help others even if they never make a personal contact with those who will benefit.”
The youth’s creative publicity sparked a strong response from the congregation, including a 400-can donation from a single donor. A final tally revealed that 2,480 cans were collected, plus enough cash donations to buy several dozen more. Chicken noodle soup carried the day, and MacMichael declared the 2500-can goal to be met.
Adult and youth volunteers delivered the soup to the community center following church services.
Cheryl Poe, the center’s director of volunteers, said that everyone in the congregation was a winner in the co-opetition. She added, “Thanks to the ingenuity of Mary MacMichael, [it] was lively, creative and fun with the generosity of the entire congregation being overwhelming. The clients of the Presbyterian Community Center are winners as well, since the pantry shelves are now stocked with a much-welcomed staple during the cold weather months.”
Submitted by Sharon Nanz