Dr. Brad Smith, founder of Souper Bowl of Caring, thanks Columbia in this guest column featured in The State.
In January of 1990, a seed of an idea found fertile soil in the Midlands. And it took root. Since that first year, when young people from 22 area Columbia churches received dollar donations from worshipers as they left services on Super Bowl Sunday, an aggregate of $98 million in cash and cans has been given to soup kitchens and food banks across America.
Thank you, Souper Bowl of Caring supporters, for responding to the Spirit's nudging and joining in God's grassroots joy in such a special way.
Even as the Souper Bowl of Caring headquarters moves to Houston to position the effort for the next chapter of growth, I am mindful that Columbia was the perfect place and many of you the perfect people, to nurture this movement from a seedling to a substantial national movement. Thank you.
Only in Columbia would 15- and 16-year old Spring Valley Presbyterian Church students and, later, Spring Valley High and Blythewood High students, voluntarily serve thousands of hours stuffing, labeling, sorting, packing and mailing promotional materials all across America. Thank you.
Only in Columbia would graphics, video and database people like Vicky, Vickie, Shani, Jerry, Chris and Frank donate their time and talent to develop resources to help tell the story for the first five years of the effort. Thank you.
Only in Columbia would people like Dan and Anne donate use of their motor-home for a blitzathon, John and Trula donate 12 years of office space and another couple give over a million dollars to help the effort touch more lives and teach more youth. Thank you.
Only in Columbia would companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield let youth groups take over their phone system to answer calls, SCBT encourage their employees to participate, Chernoff-Newman and Nelson Mullins provide counsel, and business people like Dubose and businesses like Southeastern Freight Lines and AFLAC pitch in to help. Thank you.
Only in Columbia would adolescent youth and retired bankers, housewives, pastors and many more all team up to reach beyond themselves to see Super Bowl weekend become a time of mobilizing young people in every state across America to help those who are hungry and hurting.
As it approaches its 25th birthday, and with the help of an NFL owner, it is time for the Souper Bowl of Caring to move to an NFL city. Why? Because it is the best place to dare to see what plans our Lord has for this next chapter. Might it be that the vision of 100 million people giving a dollar each to help neighbors in need on that weekend will come to pass? With God's help, and with yours, it can happen.
So you'll know, even as the headquarters has moved, there is still a staff presence in Columbia. So long as you get your group involved, there will still be hundreds of midlands organizations collecting to support local helping agencies that feed the hungry. With your financial support to enable the effort, this simple but significant effort of caring will continue.
For now, however, the most important thing is to pause and be grateful. To God. And to all of you that have contributed to make it possible.
Brad Smith, Founder of Souper Bowl of Caring, Thanks Columbia For Nurturing This Movement
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