UMC’s ‘Souper Bowl’ benefits Five Loaves
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, the New Richmond United Methodist Church Youth Group went out into the community to collect food and money donations as part of the Souper Bowl of Caring program, which it later delivered to the Five Loaves Food Shelf in New Richmond.
“We laid out bags for people to pick up for the last two Sundays and had them numbered so we knew who had a bag and where to pick them up,” said UMC Pastor Cathy Hamblin. “People filled those bags with groceries and then on Wednesday [Feb. 12] the kids went door-to-door and picked up the bags and brought them back to the church. I believe over 40 bags went out.”
Souper Bowl of Caring is an event for youth across the country to help fight hunger and poverty in their communities around the time of the Super Bowl. They give 100 percent of their donations directly to the local hungerrelief charity of their choice. The New Richmond United Methodist Church has been participating in Souper Bowl for Caring since 2000.
“The event began as part of the Mission Commission and we have now moved it to the Youth Program so the kids can be involved,” Hamblin said. “The kids love getting to go out door-to-door on a Wednesday night and they also do random acts of kindness several times a year, so they really enjoy getting to go out into the community. They also enjoyed going over to Five Loaves to deliver the food.”
When the youth group, which totals 35 members and is led by Youth Director Michelle Henke, arrived at Five Loaves with its donations, they were able to weigh their collection and then help Five Loaves Food Shelf & Fundraising Coordinator Tia Bismonte stock the shelves.
“They came in and weighed all their stuff then put it all away on the shelves,” Bismonte said. “That was a rare opportunity for us to share with some upand- coming members of the community about where our food comes from and how much food we can buy with the money that they donated. That was a lot of fun for us because we often don’t get to work that closely with the youth groups that come in. They wanted to stay and they asked questions.”
The youth group was able to bring in 536 pounds of food for the food shelf along with $400 in cash, which Bismonte can use to buy more food for the people who need it.
“That youth group goes from sixth-grade to seniors in high school and they are just the most amazing, most fun group of kids you’ll ever meet,” Bismonte said. “They just came in and had a ball.”
Along with helping Bismonte and the food shelf staff stock the shelves, the kids learned about ways the food shelf helps the community, how many people the food and money donations they collected would help and for how long.
“The kids were excited to know they would be feeding those that needed it for two weeks,” Hamblin said. “For the kids it was so exciting for them to be able to help organize the food and decide which shelves everything should go on.”
Bismonte also explained to the kids that this time of year is usually pretty slow as far as donations to the food shelf goes, so the collection was a much bigger help than they might realize.
“At this time of year, we are so grateful to have a food drive that big,” Bismonte said. “We get a lot of things in at Thanksgiving and Christmas because those are the times people give, but people tend to forget that there are still people in need after the holidays. Our shelves were looking kind of barren, but this food should help us feed people for the next two weeks.”
Aside from participating in the Souper Bowl of Caring program, the youth group does many other things to help wherever it can.
“Every month, the kids do one week of Bible study, one week of service to the community, one week of mission and one week of activities so that every month they are doing a little bit of everything,” Hamblin said. “A few of the other things they do include making sandwiches for the homeless in Minneapolis and random acts of kindness where they just go out on the street and hand out gifts. The kids just enjoy getting to do that stuff.”
As part of the Souper Bowl, groups around the country send in the total number of pounds and dollars they were able to collect and add it to the national total. However, Hamblin was quick to mention that the groups don’t get anything for sending in their numbers except pride in the good work they have done.
“We record our numbers and then we send them in to the national group,” Hamblin said. “We don’t get anything for sending those numbers in but it is just a way to motivate the churches to serve the communities. People really got into it and that is great to see.”