By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
BARDSTOWN, Ky. — The youth group at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral raised more than $4,600 for the hungry and needy at a chili and soup cook-off and tasting Feb. 1.
The event was held in partnership with “Souper Bowl of Caring,” a national movement that seeks to fight hunger.
Ellen Sprigg, coordinator for senior high youth ministry at St. Joseph, said the event is a favorite among the youth.
This year about 25 young people helped at the cook-off and tasting. Fourteen contestants entered the cook-off and offered selections such as sausage tortellini with spinach, cheddar potato and creamy tomato and artichoke soups.
The Knights of Columbus won the chili category, and Brendan Mathews, a senior at Nelson County High School, won first-place in the soup division with his chicken, bacon, ranch soup. He raised $569.
Mathews is a youth representative to the parish council at St. Joseph and a member of the Youth Advisory Board for the archdiocese.
Sprigg said this was the eighth year the youth group has done some sort of fund-raising event around the Super Bowl. This year marks the third year the youth have done a chili and soup cook-off. Last year the group raised $5,000 for the food pantry at the St. Vincent de Paul Mission Store in Bardstown.
All of the supplies for the cook-off and tasting were donate, Sprigg said, everything from paper cups and napkins to corn bread and home-made desserts. This way, Sprigg said, 100 percent of all donations will benefit the food pantry.
Instead of giving the food pantry a one-time donation, the youth group banks the money at the church and allocates funds when the pantry runs low, Sprigg explained.
When the pantry runs low, Sprigg and other volunteers take the teens to a local grocery store and let them decide what to get based on the needs of the pantry.
“Just a couple weeks ago we spent $1300. We still have one big shopping spree left from last year’s money before we spend this year’s money,” she said noting the teens shop an average of eight times throughout the year when the pantry is desperately low.
Sprigg said this is just as beneficial to the youth who are dedicated to this ministry as to the ones who receive assistance.
“Last time I bet we can 10 grocery carts. You feel like Santa Claus. It’s so neat. They load it all in the vehicles and take into the pantry. They do it all. They are able to see the rest of the story,” she said.
Gabby Manion, a senior at Bethlehem High School, said that while the end goal of the event is to raise money for St. Vincent de Paul, it is also a great way for the parish to come together.
“I think it’s important to participate in service events like this because we have so much and it is easy to take for granted all of our gifts. We shouldn’t forget those less fortunate.
“Also, as Christians, Jesus taught us that when we serve others we’re really serving him,” said Manion, who is a student member on the St. Vincent de Paul board.
In 2012, according to souperbowl.com, more than 10,000 groups collected more than $9.8 million in dollars and food for local hunger-relief charities. Since the hunger-fighting movement began in 1990, $90 million has been collected to feed the hungry.