Reported by David Waterman, WVOC
It began in South Carolina 21 years ago as a program that transforms Super Bowl weekend into the nation’s largest youth-led weekend of giving and serving.
The “other Super Bowl” or the Souper Bowl of Caring began in 1990 in Columbia with a handful of churches urging members to use some of the energy for the big game to help the less fortunate.
Over the years, it’s grown into a nationwide effort with schools and various groups pitching in, young people getting involved in community service, and the traditional donations to help local soup kitchens and other charities.
Vice President of Communications Tracy Bender says more than $60 million has been raised, including $3.7 million generated Sunday from more than 2300 groups around the state.
Bender remembers,“We were kind of at the height of a recession during Souper Bowl last year. And everybody was wondering, ‘How’s that going to affect fundraising or giving this year?’ And I think it just goes to show that people want to help people and there are more people in need, but that just, I think, elevates the awareness that we all can do something. And with Souper Bowl of Caring, you don’t have to donate $100 to make a difference. Everyone can just give $1 and it can go a long way to help someone.”
Those raising the money decide where it should go. Some groups will send their collections this year to help with disaster relief in Haiti, others to local charity organizations within their own community.