By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Rice Bowl participants did it again.
For a second consecutive year, the CRS Rice Bowl collection broke records in the Diocese of Davenport. Parishes in the diocese raised a total of $84,353 earlier this year, up from $64,386 in 2014 and $53,831 in 2013.
“We were just blown away by the total,” said Loxi Hopkins, a volunteer in the diocesan Social Action office. She credited the expanded Rice Bowl kick-off breakfast program with providing information and ideas to parishes for a successful Lenten collection. The Social Action office hosted three breakfasts around the diocese this year after witnessing the success of its inaugural breakfast in Iowa City in 2014.
St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City raised the most money of any parish, just under $6,000. Parishioners Julie and Larry Lynch spearheaded efforts after attending a breakfast in Hills. By learning more about how Rice Bowl funds are distributed and used in the diocese and throughout the world, they were able to explain the importance of the program to other parishioners and to get them excited about donating.
“Our methods were fairly basic,” Julie said. After an initial speech at Mass, Rice Bowl committee members offered weekly spotlights and printed Rice Bowl material in bulletins and on the parish website. “I have to stress that it was the opened hearts and extreme generosity of our parish members that allowed that amount to be collected. They are the reason the parish was able to increase its contribution substantially.”
Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish’s contribution grew from about $20 in 2013 to about $4,800 this year. Parishioner Lori Ferris attended a breakfast in Knoxville and used the knowledge she gained there to raise awareness of Rice Bowl within the Muscatine parish and its elementary school. She said once people knew about the project, it wasn’t hard to get them excited about giving.
School classrooms had contests to see who could raise the most money. Youths were encouraged to give cardboard Rice Bowl banks to their family, friends and relatives. Ferris, speaking at Masses, encouraged adults to serve meatless dishes at home once a week and give up take-out coffee drinks once in a while. The money saved through these actions could be placed in the Rice Bowl bank, she suggested.
St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt also increased its Rice Bowl collection significantly, raising $4,397 after Deacon Mark Comer and Jean Adams attended a breakfast in Long Grove. At the breakfast, Adams told The Catholic Messenger that she and other parishioners were familiar with Rice Bowl, but going to the breakfast helped her to better understand the impact the collections can make. She shared this information regularly with the parish, and they responded with generosity, Deacon Comer said.
Other parishes with significant increases this year were Our Lady of Victory–Davenport; St. Wenceslaus– Iowa City; St. Anthony–Knoxville; St. Alphonsus–Mount Pleasant; Holy Trinity–Richmond; St. Mary–Riverside; St. Mary–Tipton; and St. Mary–West Point. About 85 percent of diocesan parishes raised money for Rice Bowl in 2015, roughly the same as last year.
Annually, 75 percent of the funds raised go to Catholic Relief Services to ease hunger worldwide; the remaining 25 percent goes to organizations working to fight hunger within the Diocese of Davenport. This year, 18 organizations in the diocese benefited from the distribution of $20,588.
Hopkins said she received more applications for grants than in the past, likely because awareness for the Rice Bowl program is growing. “It was really great to have this big boost of money to give out, as well as the money that went to fight hunger worldwide,” she said.
CCHD funds raised
Diocesan Catholics also donated money to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) collection earlier this year. Seventy-five percent of the funds go to the national organization. One-four of the $7,193 raised went to projects around the diocese dedicated to working for fairness in housing, economic justice, immigrant rights, workers rights and other such issues. Beneficiaries included The Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa and Quad Cities Interfaith of Davenport.