Newsletters from groups and organizations that find their way to my desk are often the springboard for stories, and the January issue of Urban Mission Ministries' Bright Horizons is no exception.
It offers, among other things, an opportunity for churches, schools, youth groups and individuals to help the mission replenish food supplies now in the wake of a high-demand holiday season, according to the Rev. Ashley Steele, the mission's executive director.
"We always expect the holidays to be pretty busy around here, but we already had noticed our numbers going up each month," Steele said in discussing the level of need the mission experienced during November and December - more than in 2011 - and this December "was probably our largest ever."
The Unity Kitchen at Urban Mission Ministries provides a hot meal several times a week to those in need. Joyce Guglielmo, left, is Unity Kitchen coordinator, and the Rev. Ashley Steele is the mission’s executive director.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
"A lot of the times now we're seeing a lot of people who are working but just can't make ends meet so they're trying to do whatever they can," Steele said.
In an interview earlier this week, the mission's executive director since July 2011 noted the Souper Bowl of Caring has become an annual tradition for many to make a big difference for charities that serve the community's most vulnerable.
On or near the Super Bowl, which is Feb. 3, area participants in this effort can:
Register at www.souperbowl.org or call 1-800-358-SOUP (7687) to receive free promotional materials.
Collect food or money donations on or near Feb. 3;
Report the results at www.souperbowl.org for "the country to see the power of caring," according to the newsletter, so organizers can determine a national total; and
Donate 100 percent of the collection to the Urban Mission.
Participation in this is not something new for the mission.
"We don't necessarily actually have something here (at the mission), but what we do is we encourage churches in the area to host their own Souper Bowl of Caring, and really a lot of churches have done this in the past," Steele said.
"I know a few are doing it this year, but it's really just a way they can do something whether it's make subs or soups or you name it, whatever they'd like, and they usually do it around the Super Bowl time with all proceeds going to a charity of their choice, which is our hunger ministry," she said.
"This is kind of a neat program because it comes right around the Super Bowl, and it really has made a lot of difference in years past for us," she said. "If churches or organizations are interested in the Souper Bowl of Caring, we would always be willing to come out and do whatever we can whether it is share a little bit about the mission or just help them plan an event if they need some help," Steele said.
The mission anticipates increased need this year, according to Steele, who said the ministry's focus in 2013 will be finding ways to help lower the numbers.
"There are a lot of different plans we have or at least ideas, not that we can solve the poverty issue in this area, but what role can we play in helping people get ahead and trying to either equip them with life skills or tools or just something that can help them help themselves," she said.
"I think that people want to do that. I think the majority of people really desire to have a better life in whatever way that that might be, so our focus this year is, even if the need increases, we'll still continue whatever we need to do to make sure people are fed, clothed and housed, but then also what can we do to just really help them find wholeness again," Steele said.