At Fort Wayne’s First Presbyterian Church, the San Francisco 49ers appeared to have a slight edge.
Across the street at Trinity English Lutheran Church, the Baltimore Ravens had the edge, at least with some of the servers.
But regardless of who might win Super Bowl XLVII, the winners of Fort Wayne’s Souper Bowl of Caring will be the area’s hungry.
In churches around the city Sunday, young people championed drives for donations of food and money earmarked for local food banks and worldwide food relief.
According to Souper Bowl of Caring’s national website, about a dozen Fort Wayne area churches were to participate in this year’s drive. The nationwide effort linked to the NFL championship game began in 1990 and last year collected $9.8 million in dollars and food.
At First Presbyterian, stacks of canned soups and boxes of crackers filled the end zones as people dropped off donations at a table decorated to look like a football field. By 10:30 a.m., the 49ers’ end had a bit bigger pile.
By noon at Trinity, about 100 people were sitting down to an after-church lunch of three kinds of made-from-scratch soup, salads, fruit cup and chocolate or red velvet cake – all prepared and served by members of the church’s youth group.
The young people made twice as much food as they thought would be needed so the extra could be delivered to the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission, said the Rev. Dan Fugate, Trinity’s pastor for children, youth and families.
Donations for the meal would go to a denominational fund to fight world hunger. For us, this has become a tradition on Super Bowl Sunday, Fugate said.
At Fort Wayne’s St. Joseph Catholic Church, Terri Schutte, director of religious formation, turned the food drive into a contest between seventh- and eighth-graders in religion classes.
Parishioners were asked to donate to seventh-graders if they favored the Ravens and to eighth-graders if they supported the 49ers, she said.
It’s fun, but we’re teaching them we do have a need in our neighborhood as well as nationally and around the world, so it kind of opens their eyes a little bit, she said. It shows that we need to be caring, that we are called to be servants and do what we can to help the poor and those in need.
St. Joseph collected 290 pounds of food Sunday, up from about 200 pounds last year, Schutte said. Money is yet to be counted, but she said she hoped it would surpass the $400 raised last year.
Donations at Trinity Lutheran were expected to equal last year’s figure of $1,400, participants said.
At First Presbyterian, Chip Davis, youth ministry coordinator, said donations would be divided among food banks at Wellspring Interfaith Services, East Wayne Street Center and Amistad Christiana, a bilingual Presbyterian outreach congregation on Fort Wayne’s southeast side.
Football allegiances also were divided. Helping out during the First Presbyterian drive, Ashby Drummond, 14, of Leo, said he was rooting for the 49ers because their coach went to (the University of) Michigan, and I’m a Michigan fan.
Davis, however, said he had to be sentimental and go with the Ravens. I went to South Side (High School), alma mater of the Ravens’ No. 31, Bernard Pollard.
I was friends with his brother and sister, so I have to go that way, he said.
At Trinity, Hannah Hobby, 16, a Concordia Lutheran School sophomore, was wearing a purple sweater for the Ravens, while Maggie Keisler, 16, a South Side sophomore, was ladling second helpings of steaming chicken noodle soup.
Asked why she was rooting for the Ravens, Keisler had a quick reply. Ray Lewis, she said, referring to the team’s flashy middle linebacker who announced he would retire at the end of the season.
But mostly the two girls were rooting for their Souper Bowl to be a success.
It’s just great to help out, Hobby said.