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Everyone wins by participating in Souper Bowl of Caring

The Helping Center of Marble Falls Area

Maryetta ‘Mike’ Williams chats with Martin McLean as they volunteer at The Helping Center of Marble Falls Area. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

The math is simple, but the impact would be tremendous, according to Sam Pearce.

“You think about it. What? A hundred and fifty million people are watching the Super Bowl. What if each of them gave a can of chili or soup or just a dollar,” said the executive director of The Helping Center of Marble Falls Area. “Even in Burnet County, what if maybe 35,000 of the 40,000 people who live here watch the game? What if they gave to their local food pantry? Do you know what a difference that would make?”

Pearce and other directors and managers of Highland Lakes food pantries don’t have to dream about that happening. A South Carolina seminary intern and youths at his church got the ball rolling 30 years ago. It turned into the Souper Bowl of Caring.

It’s a simple concept, Pearce explained: Churches, schools, and organizations register with the program on its website and then set out receptacles for people to drop off non-perishable food or monetary donations. The drive takes place in the weeks leading up to the NFL’s Super Bowl, which, in 2020, is February 2. On the Sunday of the game, youths at participating churches often stand outside worship services to ask for donations.

Pearce knows of three Marble Falls churches — St. Andrew Presbyterian, Trinity Episcopal, and St. Peter’s Lutheran — that have confirmed they are participating in the 2020 Souper Bowl of Caring. He’s encouraging other churches as well as schools, businesses, and organizations to consider jumping on board, even just setting out a collection box or barrel.

“But what about the people, you know, who don’t go to those churches or one that’s doing it? How can they participate?” asked Pearce, though he already had the answer.

You can drop off donations inside The Helping Center, 1315 Broadway in Marble Falls, during regular business hours or, starting Friday, January 24, into two containers that will be set up at the center.

Pearce said people won’t have any trouble finding the two drop-off boxes: One will be decorated in the colors of the Kansas City Chiefs and the other in the colors of the San Francisco 49ers, the two Super Bowl contenders.

It might be interesting to see which box receives the most donations.

While communities rally around food pantries during the holidays, hunger and food insecurity happen 365 days a year, even in the Highland Lakes. According to the Burnet County Hunger Alliance, approximately 15 percent of county residents are food insecure, which is defined as someone having “difficulty meeting their food needs.”

Even after receiving a delivery of food from the Central Texas Food Bank in Austin, The Helping Center is still lacking in canned, boxed, and bottled fruit juices. The next big delivery isn’t until about the second week of February, but Pearce can’t wait that long as many of the center’s clients need the juice.

“So I’ll have to go out and buy it,” he added.