NEWBERRY — A simple prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat” is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world and in Newberry County.
In Newberry County a host of churches and other groups will be collecting canned items and money Sunday as part of Souper Bowl Sunday.
The prayer delivered by Brad Smith then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia gave birth to an idea.
Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy?
Youth could collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar directly to a local charity of their choice.
The senior high youth of Spring Valley Presbyterian liked the idea so much they decided to invite other area churches to join the team.
Twenty two Columbia churches participated that first year, reporting their results so a total could be determined, and then sending all $5,700 they had raised to area non-profits.
That was 1990. Since then, ordinary young people have generated an extraordinary $90 million for soup kitchens, food banks and other charities in communities across the country.
Last year, more than 10,000 groups gave over $9.8 million in dollars and food to the cause.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of youth have experienced for themselves the joy and satisfaction of giving and serving, inspiring people of all ages to follow their generous example.
But many of the churches in Newberry County pass the items along to the Manna House housed in the S.C. Department of Social Services complex on Wilson Road.
DSS County Director Sara Smith, who helps organize the Manna House, says the donations come in after the Christmas and Thanksgiving rush of gifts and helps maintain the food pantry during the winter.
Living Hope Foundation also can benefit greatly from the Souper Bowl giving and founder John Glasgow says he welcomes the donations.