- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Central Union Mission in Northwest hosted a charity event last night in connection with the NFL Super Bowl in which about 100 men received food and drinks while watching the football game on television.

This was the eighth straight year that the mission has participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring, a national effort that works with local youth organizations to fight hunger and poverty on Super Bowl Sunday.

The televisions were turned off while the men bowed their heads in prayer over tables trimmed in Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears logos. “Father, we thank you. You’ve been just so good to us,” the Rev. James Lewis said.

The Souper Bowl of Caring has formed partnerships with more than 12,000 other groups across the country and has raised roughly $33 million to fight hunger since it was founded in 1990, according to the group’s Web site.

“When I got here and saw all that the mission does, I was in awe,” said Mr. Lewis, who arrived seven years ago after serving as a chaplain at a prison in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Contributions of money and nonperishable food support programs at the nonprofit Central Union Mission on R Street Northwest. The Christian mission has provided the city’s homeless with emergency food, clothing and shelter since 1884.

Volunteers served dinner and watched the game on the mission’s two big-screen televisions with those staying at the shelter.

The men were treated to a meal of chili, crackers, hot dogs, potato chips, popcorn, cake, pie, coffee and punch. The food came from the mission’s food depot and 13 churches.

“Every year, we look forward to the Souper Bowl Party … for the opportunity it gives the community to make a hands-on impact,” said David O. Treadwell, the mission’s executive director. “But this year is even better [because] working with Souper Bowl for Caring will help more area youth become aware of our activities and the chance to get involved. The Souper Bowl Party gives young people a safe, real way to impact the community, and we love to host it.”

The party last year filled the mission to its capacity of 88 overnight guests.

Other local ministries also used Super Sunday to help others.

First Seventh-day Adventist Church, in the 800 block of Shepherd Street Northwest, expected more than 75 homeless people to attend its Super Bowl Breakfast.

Organizers also used the breakfast to honor the black head coaches of the two Super Bowl teams. They plan to petition the National Football League to make Super Bowl Sunday an annual “Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy Day of Service.”

Chicken, bread, juice, cereal and vegetarian goods were donated for the breakfast and to the church’s mission. Donors also brought coats, gloves, long underwear and other winter apparel to help keep the poor and homeless warm. Rashida Jolley, a former Miss America contestant, entertained the crowd.

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