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‘Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday’ raises more than $1,000 for Neighborhood Center


MASSENA — While the Seattle Seahawks were the winners of this year’s Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, the Massena Neighborhood Center was the winner of this year’s “Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday” at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The event Sunday raised $1,018.25 for the Massena Neighborhood Center.

The concept was simple. When the service was over, Earl Jackson stood at one exit with a “Souper Bowl” bucket, asking for donations. Brandon Saunders stood at another exit doing the same.

In return, donors were invited to enjoy a homemade luncheon of soup and sandwiches.

“Just give what you can,” Mr. Jackson said. “If you can’t, just come in and eat.”

Mr. Saunders, 21, has been collecting for the cause since he was 5 years old.

“When I was a kid I was very persistent. You wouldn’t get out until you gave something,” he said.

In addition to collecting, Mr. Saunders also contributes financially to the effort.

Mr. Jackson said this was the 15th year St. John’s Episcopal Church has participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday. Since beginning their effort, they have raised more than $8,000 for the Massena Neighborhood Center, he said.

The approximately 40 people who were at Sunday’s service came through again with their donations, which Massena Neighborhood Center Executive Director Elaine Eggleston said she appreciated.

“It’s very, very nice. You can never have enough (funding for food),” she said as she enjoyed the soup and sandwich luncheon with others.

The day is so important for the church that they shared a hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, “God, You Give Us Recreation,” as part of their service. It reads in part, “May we, as your sons and daughters, share with open heart and hand, Till your justice flows like waters to the poor throughout the land.”

Mr. Jackson said the Souper Bowl of Caring movement started in 1990 with the senior high youth of Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C. They invited other area churches to join their team and 22 Columbia churches raised $5,700 for area non-profits that year.

Since then, more than $90 million has been raised for soup kitchens, food banks and other charities in communities across the country.

“It is now nationwide. Every penny collected goes to help feed the people in need,” he said.

According to the organization’s website, more than 2,400 participating groups collected $3.9 million in cash and food items for charities in their area this year - and the numbers were still coming in Monday.

Anyone who is interested in starting their own effort can get more information at or by calling 1-800-358-7687.

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