By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
After a record-breaking year in 2014, the diocesan Social Action office hopes for another successful Lenten Rice Bowl collection in 2015, said volunteer Loxi Hopkins. Three kick-off breakfasts have been organized this winter in the diocese to help accomplish this goal.
These breakfasts will offer parish representatives an opportunity to learn more about Rice Bowl, share ideas with parishes and discover ways in which Rice Bowl can help their communities, Hopkins said.
The decision to host the breakfasts comes on the heels of the biggest diocesan Rice Bowl collection to date, following years of stagnant donations. The 2014 diocesan collection totaled $64,386 — nearly $11,000 more than in 2013. The Social Action office credited the increase to the first-ever kick-off breakfast, since the 16 parishes represented at the breakfast accounted for about 75 percent of the total increase. Each of the 16 parishes increased donations. “People got excited at the breakfast,” Hopkins said at the time.
The increase in donations allowed the Social Action office to award more grants to its hunger relief beneficiaries. Diocesan programs receive 25 percent of the funds raised while Catholic Relief Services (CRS) programs worldwide receive 75 percent.
Because of the success of the 2014 breakfast, and requests to make the breakfasts more accessible throughout the diocese, the Social Action office chose to increase the number of breakfasts to three for 2015. The locations should help accommodate people from different areas of the diocese, Hopkins said.
The first breakfast will take place Jan. 10 at St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville. A second breakfast will take place Jan. 31 at St. Ann Parish in Long Grove. The third breakfast will be held Feb. 7 at St. Joseph Parish in Hills. Each breakfast will be served from 9 to 11 a.m.
“We’re already getting a good response from people planning on coming and from the heads of (parish) Rice Bowl committees,” Hopkins said.
At the breakfasts, attendees will have the opportunity to hear which countries CRS will focus on this year. Additionally, parish representatives will break into multi-parish small groups to share and brainstorm fundraising ideas.
People who have received grants within the diocese will share their stories, as well. Hopkins hopes the additional Rice Bowl breakfast locations this year will help spread the word about what Rice Bowl can do locally to help nonprofit organizations. “People might have a project that will qualify for a grant,” she said.
Hopkins also hopes that each parish in the diocese will send at least one representative to one of the three breakfasts. Persons can register by contacting Esmerelda Guerrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (563) 888-4210 at least two days prior to the event they plan to attend.